Tobacco News and Updates: Winter 2023
Oklahoma’s Cigarette Use Has Dropped, But Tobacco Remains an Economic Burden
Over the past four years, Oklahoma’s adult smoking rate has decreased by 19%, and statewide usage dropped below 17% at the end of 2022, an all-time low! While this is a big-time win for our state, we still have plenty of work to do — especially given the extreme financial toll tobacco takes on the U.S. economy: an estimated $900 billion each year. To put it all in perspective, that means every U.S. citizen loses an average $1,100 of their income (per capita) every year. It’s worth mentioning that the states with the weakest tobacco control policies experience the highest economic losses. What would you rather do with that extra $1K each year?
Juul Lawsuit Reaches a Settlement
In June of 2022, the FDA ordered Juul Labs to remove their products from the marketplace, but Juul immediately appealed the ruling. In September of 2022, Juul sued the FDA for refusing to disclose their supporting documents for the ban — but the popular e-cigarette company also faced more than 5,000 lawsuits of its own — from individuals, school districts and local governments who contend that their products are far more addictive than their ads suggest. As of December 2022, Juul Labs has agreed to pay a whopping $1.7 billion in settlements.
Big Tobacco Must Display New Corrective Statements in Retail Stores
After a 20-year battle, the U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a court order in December 2022, which resolves the civil racketeering lawsuit filed against America’s largest cigarette companies in 1999. This order requires tobacco companies to display signs that feature new corrective statements about the true health risks and addictiveness associated with their products in any retail store that sells them.
30 States Levy Taxes on Vapes and E-Cigarettes
The need for stronger tobacco control policies also extends to the vaping sphere. Currently, 30 states are levying excise taxes on vaping devices and e-cigarettes, and two states have policies that are in progress. This is a major improvement when you consider the fact that only three states and the District of Columbia were taxing these products back in 2015. However, the other 18 states continue to lag — and, unfortunately, Oklahoma is one of them.
Sneaky New Nicotine Products Invade Our Schools
As Juul and the FDA continue to go head-to-head, sinister new nicotine products continue to infiltrate the market and, more concerningly, high schools across America. A recent survey of more than 3,500 high school students in Southern California revealed that flavored chewing gum, lozenges, gummies, tablets, pouches and other oral products that contain nicotine (but not tobacco) are the second most popular methods of ingesting nicotine — second to only e-cigarettes. Per usual, these highly addictive products are disguised in fruity flavors like cherry and pomegranate. Because they resemble well-known types of gummies and other candies, they feel familiar and safe to teens, especially since they’re labeled “tobacco-free.” Additionally, since there’s no incriminating smell, smoke or vapor, they make it easier than ever for minors to covertly consume nicotine in plain sight.
It’s Time for the FDA to Ban All Flavored Nicotine Products
85% of teens who use e-cigarettes reported choosing flavored products, with a strong preference for minty, menthol, fruity, candy and dessert flavors. If the FDA ordered all flavored nicotine products off the market, it could motivate the 2.55 million middle and high school students who use e-cigarettes to quit. That’s right — in a 2022 survey, 14.1% of high school students and 3.3% of middle school students reported using vapes within the past 30 days. The solution is clear: It’s time to ban these products for good.
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