​​​​AACR/ASCO Issue Joint Statement Recommending Increased Regulation of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

Statement calls for the probibition of ENDS marketing aimed at the youth market.

Combustible tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States, and tobacco use has been on the decline in recent years. Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), products that include e-cigarettes, have emerged as a potential smoking cessation tool and deliver nicotine to the user without burning tobacco. Current regulations do not apply to ENDS, and this permissive environment has led to a rapid increase in recent years of the use of ENDS by youth and adults. 

On Jan. 8, 2014, the AACR published a joint policy paper with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recommending specific steps to regulate ENDS to minimize the potential health consequences of their use and to protect youth from early adoption through marketing and advertising restrictions. 

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), a longtime champion on Capitol Hill for tobacco control, expressed his support for the policy statement. 

"Thanks to decades of strong federal regulations and the efforts of groups like the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, youth tobacco use is on the decline. But these hard-won gains are at risk if we fail to address a gateway to tobacco addiction: e-cigarettes. Every day the FDA fails to move forward with federal regulation is another opportunity for Big Tobacco to peddle its newest product unchecked. The scientific evidence has never been clearer: strong regulatory action on e-cigarettes cannot wait."

While the majority of ENDS users represent current smokers, there is a disturbing trend toward their use by non-smokers, particularly among youth. A recent study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows relatively high use of e-cigarettes among teenagers: more than 16 percent of 10th graders and more than 17 percent of 12th graders self-reported having used e-cigarettes in the past month. More troubling is that nearly 1 in 10 eighth graders reported having used e-cigarettes. Because of the potentially harmful effects of nicotine on the still-developing adolescent brain and the potential for e-cigarette use to translate to the use of traditional tobacco products, this pattern of use is of great concern.​

The AACR is working with Senator Durbin and other lawmakers who support policies aimed at minimizing the negative public health impact of ENDS, especially on our country's youth. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), in response to the AACR/ASCO joint statement, said the following:

"E-cigarettes contain toxic substances and addictive nicotine and are being marketed to children using practices now outlawed for traditional cigarettes. [This] call by leading cancer research organizations is more evidence that the Administration must act quickly to regulate electronic cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems. It's past time for the FDA to protect American children and consumers from these predatory tactics."

Several of the recommendations in the AACR/ASCO joint statement address the very issues outlined by Senators Durbin and Brown. Among them are a ban on flavors and flavor names known to be appealing to a youth audience and prohibiting their marketing on items such as hats and t-shirts, sponsorship of sporting events, concerts and other similar venues, and sale at self-service kiosks — all of which are known to be highly visible to youth consumers.

Considerable research continues on ENDS, and more needs to be done since it remains unclear whether they should be recommended for use as smoking cessation tools. What is clear, however, is that these products have no place in the hands of children or teens. To that end, the AACR will continue its advocacy efforts with Congress and the administration to ensure that, while we can continue to evaluate the usefulness of e-cigarettes in helping smokers to quit, we minimize or eliminate the potential harm of their misuse by non-smokers, particularly among youth.​

Additional Resources:

​Learn more about ENDS​
Read the AACR/ASCO joint policy statement​