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Prevention Institute E-alert: April 23, 2015

Joint Letter Praises California Department of Public Health, Pledges Support in New Fight Against Big Tobacco

Big Tobacco and its allies have been blowing a lot of smoke to obscure the emerging science on the dangers e-cigarettes pose to public health. They are trying to represent e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative that will help reduce cigarette smoking, all while aggressively marketing them to children.

That’s why seven of California’s top public health leaders sent a strong letter of support yesterday to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) for its bold campaign to combat misinformation peddled by e-cigarette marketers, and for its declaration of e-cigarettes as “a community health threat.”

As noted in the joint letter to the CDPH:

“Use of e-cigarettes more than doubled among middle- and high-school students in 2013 alone, with e-cigarettes increasingly serving as an on-ramp to nicotine addiction and other tobacco products among youth.  Calls to California poison control centers surged between 2012 and 2014, from 19 e-cigarette-related poisonings in 2012 to 243 in 2014, with children age five and under representing the majority of victims. In a report issued this January, the Department found that e-cigarettes emit a harmful aerosol that contains at least 10 chemicals included in California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

The industry claims their products are intended for adults, yet they feature flavors such as “cinnamon roll”, “cotton candy” and “gummy bear”.  A study in the journal Pediatrics  last year found 12- to 17-year-olds were exposed to 256% more TV ads for e-cigarettes in 2013 than they were in 2011. E-cigarettes’ defenders claim that they are a healthier alternative to cigarettes, instead of a gateway; this was disproven by a new American Journal of Public Health study that found smokers who have used e-cigarettes are less likely to cut back on cigarettes in the future than smokers who haven’t used them.

Big Tobacco’s tactics are working, and they’re hooking our kids. The letter to the CDPH explains the threat:

“E-cigarettes threaten to undo hard-fought public health victories by reintroducing smoking to California workplaces, restaurants, bars, and other public spaces where traditional cigarettes have long been banned. The status quo means more children hooked on nicotine, more poison control emergencies, increased exposure to secondhand vapors in previously protected spaces, and a mounting burden of preventable illness and injury. We need policies to protect public health, limit the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes, and extend smoke-free policies to cover e-cigarettes.”

The letter was originated by Prevention Institute (PI), whose executive director Larry Cohen led the effort to pass the nation's first multi-city smoking ban and helped win statewide and national smoking bans. He stated, “Unless we’re vigilant, the risks of e-cigarettes, as well as the ways they’re being marketed specifically to renormalize smoking—particularly for youth—will clearly lead to many more people developing cancer, heart disease, and other smoking-related diseases. But momentum is on our side, as cities, counties and states are fighting back and standing up for public health—especially children’s—over the rights of corporations to profit off products that endanger lives.”


PI Joins In Fight to Block Prevention Fund Repeal

Prevention Institute and a broad coalition of public health groups joined Senator Patty Murray Wednesday in defeating an amendment to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF). Read the roll call of votes here.  

From Kools to Cancer Sticks: How Quality Prevention Changed Tobacco Norms

Watch PI’s Larry Cohen chronicle the history of anti-smoking efforts, including how he helped guide a new approach that has resulted in policy and legislative changes.

E-Cigarettes: Big Tobacco’s Latest Toxic Incarnation

Read our op-ed in the Sacramento Bee about how e-cigarettes threaten to undo many of the hard-fought victories against Big Tobacco.

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