In its single-minded pursuit of maximizing profits, JUUL and the other companies of Big Tobacco 2.0 have used deceptive marketing, large-scale lobbying, and teen-friendly products (such as flavored e-cigarettes) to circumvent existing policies. This combination of tactics aggravates the need for anti-tobacco policies by increasing the likelihood that people will use life-threatening tobacco products. At SAN, we support restrictions on purchase age, flavoring, and marketing of e-cigarettes, and we engage in legislative advocacy to support these policies.
Many do not realize that flavors in e-cigarettes are legal due to a loophole in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009. Although the Act banned flavors in cigarettes, it failed to regulate e-cigarettes because they had not yet become a popular nicotine delivery device. By regulating flavors and diminishing teen tobacco use, the federal government protects the health of its citizens and gains fiscally in the long term by minimizing healthcare costs to treat the effects of e-cigarette addiction, costs that are ultimately borne by taxpayers. At the federal level, we support policies including Tobacco 21, a flavor ban, increased prevention education funding, and stricter warning labeling for e-cigarette packaging. We are currently working with lawmakers, nonprofits, and other organizations supporting bills including the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act and the Smoke Free Schools Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill that would ban e-cigarettes and other vaping devices in schools and childcare facilities nationwide. We were proud to be quoted in sponsor U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel’s September 2019 press release publicizing this bill (available here: https://engel.house.gov/latest-news/engel-statement-on-surge-of-vapingrelated-lung-illnesses/)
New York State
(In part due to our advocacy, New York State passed Tobacco 21 in July 2019. However, while age restrictions are very important, it is not the full solution that New York state desperately needs to prevent teen nicotine use. We are currently collaborating with Assemblypeople, State Senators, and organizations including Reality Check and Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes (PAVE) on a statewide flavor ban. We are also working closely with Governor Cuomo and the Department of Health on executive actions to regulate e-cigarettes, including the Governor's 9th Proposal of the 2020 State of the State address, which enacts stricter penalties for violators of NYS's Tobacco 21 law (https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-unveils-9th-proposal-2020-state-state-cracking-down-retailers-who-sell-illegal). In November 2019, we were invited as the only youth organization to testify at a NYS Senate Hearing on E-Cigarette Use (we appear at 3:44:44):
We played an instrumental role in the passage of Westchester's Tobacco 21 Legislation in Spring 2018. We are currently advocating for a flavor ban and other county-level legislation that will further decrease nicotine use. After advocating for a flavor ban in Yonkers, NY, pop. 202,000, we were proud to show our support as Mayor Mike Spano signed one into law in September. Check out our quote in the press release here: https://www.yonkersny.gov/Home/Components/News/News/6781/3218
Flavor Ban Policy Paper: Pros and Cons
Following a rigorous policy analysis and debate, we determined that a flavor ban would make a significant contribution to decreasing the number of teens using e-cigarettes. Please see our pro/con paper below for more information on this topic.
How Do We Do It?
At SAN, we believe that collaboration is essential to success, and we are always eager to share insights from our legislative advocacy experience with other advocates. Using a combination of email/petition drives, meetings with legislators, speeches at public hearings, press conferences, and more, we leverage the power of youth to turn proposed policies into reality. If you are interested in starting a local legislative advocacy initiative or want to learn more about how we amplify youth voice, fill out our contact form!