FDA Renewing Push to Crack Down on Teen Smoking

It's hard to find a group that hates smoking more than doctors, which is why they're cheering a move by the federal government to crack down on tobacco use by kids, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

In a statement, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says they're moving to ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes.

"I believe these menthol-flavored products represent one of the most common and pernicious routes by which kids initiate on combustible cigarettes," he said in a statement.

Dr. Shawn Varney, who heads the South Texas Poison Center says the move will go a long way towards stopping kids from picking up the habit.  

While many people smoke, the act of inhaling tobacco fumes is not pleasant.  The minty flavor makes it easier for kids to try it for the first time.

"When you can coat the smoke with menthol, so it sooths or almost anesthetizes the back of your throat or nasal passageways, you may be more likely to continue smoking," he says.

And while smoking rates are on the decline nationwide, vaping is on the rise.  The FDA is also addressing that trend with new rules to make it more difficult for kids to get their hands on the fruit flavored juice that powers e-cigarettes.

In his statement, Gottlieb pointed to new data showing a 78 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students from 2017 to 2018.

"The total number of middle and high school students currently using e-cigarettes rose to 3.6 million - that’s 1.5 million more students using these products than the previous year."

Dr. Varney hopes the rules will cut down on the number of kids who see others vaping and give it a shot, "the experimentation factor. 

"People say it's not a cigarette.  It doesn’t stink as bad. People are not going to recognize it."

The proposed changes do not go into effect immediately.  The FDA must go through a rule-making process.

IMAGE: GETTY

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