Vaping industry faces a triple threat – science, advocacy, and community action

News Release, American Heart Association

American Heart Association announces sweeping research investment, policy advocacy fund and youth activation campaign demanding “Big Vape” to #QuitLying

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 15, 2019 — The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives, today announced an aggressive, three-pronged initiative involving research, policy advocacy and youth activation intended to urgently address the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use. The initiative, launched as 1 in 4 high school students nationwide report using e-cigarettes, has three central components:

  • A new $20 million research investment, called the End the Lies Youth Vaping and Nicotine Research Initiative, which will focus urgently on the impact of vaping and nicotine use on youth, funding two or three scientists who will work intensely over the next two years to address the fact that there is no knowledge about the long-term health effects in youth;
  • An aggressive, nationwide youth, school and community engagement and awareness campaign, dubbed #QuitLying, (QuitLying.org) designed to hold e-cigarette companies publicly accountable for their lies; and
  • An impactful, multi-year fund dedicated to public policy change at all levels of government to prevent youth vaping and nicotine addiction, with foundational support from Kaiser Permanente.

The initiative was launched on the eve of the Association’s annual Scientific Sessions conference, which draws more than 15,000 leading physicians, scientists, cardiologists, health care professionals, and others from around the world to discuss the future of cardiovascular science and medicine.

With initial funding of $20 million, the new End the Lies Youth Vaping and Nicotine Research Initiative will drive scientific discovery that will help end teen vaping, nicotine use and addiction in this country. This innovative research investment, which is 40 times larger than a typical American Heart Association research grant, will fund two to three sweeping, ground-breaking projects at research institutions nationwide. The American Heart Association is already the largest non-government funder of cardiovascular research in the nation.  

“The launch of this game-changing research initiative marks a sentinel moment in the fight to prevent youth vaping and protect our children from nicotine addiction,” said Robert Harrington, M.D., FAHA, president of the American Heart Association. “This research project, one of the largest ever funded by the Association, will help us answer critical questions about the health consequences of vaping and nicotine addiction, particularly in youth.”

The Association also unveiled an aggressive consumer engagement campaign, called #QuitLying, to empower youth, schools, and communities across the country to call out leading e-cigarette manufacturers JUUL and the e-cigarette industry for their lies about vaping and nicotine addiction.

The campaign empowers youth with facts and tools for social media sharing via the QuitLying.org website. The platform allows students, teachers, and parents to access and share educational resources, tips, and tools for quitting e-cigarette use, and guidance on becoming activists in the fight wherever they are. Plans are in development to create a nationwide day of activation early next year leveraging the hashtag #QuitLying, as well as school and community forums designed to elevate the dialogue and combat the industry’s disinformation with facts about the health threats posed by e-cigarette use on youth.

“E-cigarette companies lie to our kids when they falsely claim their products are safe, and they deceive parents by marketing devices that look like USB drives, pens, and eyeliner,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “The industry’s lies don’t just sound like Big Tobacco – the industry IS Big Tobacco. We are providing outraged students, parents and educators alike with a forum and the tools to seize control of the narrative and call out the industry as the liars they are to protect the health and safety of our nation’s kids. Together we are demanding that Big Vape #QuitLying.”

In addition to investing in research and engaging communities, the American Heart Association is joining forces with Kaiser Permanente to create the Preventing Youth Nicotine Addiction Policy Fund. The fund, which will support policies at the federal, state and community levels to prevent youth e-cigarette use, will fuel legislative and grassroots efforts nationwide aimed at ensuring lawmakers and policymakers do their part to address this public health crisis. 

“We proudly stand with the American Heart Association to address the critical need for public policies at all levels of government to prevent e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction among youth,” said Bechara Choucair, M.D., senior vice president, and chief community health officer for Kaiser Permanente. “Strong regulation and oversight can help prevent youth access and avoid a lifetime of nicotine addiction that can begin with vaping.”

“Public policy is essential to disrupt the alarming rise of e-cigarette use among youth, which has more than doubled in just the past two years,” Brown said. “We are grateful Kaiser Permanente is joining us in this fight to prioritize proven policy solutions that reduce tobacco use.”

The American Heart Association’s #QuitLying campaignEnd the Lies Youth Vaping and Nicotine Research Initiative and Preventing Youth Nicotine Addiction Policy Fund present a triple threat to the e-cigarette industry’s lies and deception.

More on the End the Lies Youth Vaping and Nicotine Research Initiative

Much is unknown about e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction, particularly among youth. The biological impacts on multiple organ systems including the heart, brain, lungs, and blood vessels are not well understood, especially among children and adolescents who are still developing. The recent spate of vaping-related lung disease and deaths is a tragic validation of this urgent gap in knowledge.

A comprehensive scientific literature review by the American Heart Association found insufficient data on behavioral trends and influencers on initiation, dual-use, addiction, and/or cessation across or between diverse populations. Policymakers, regulators, medical professionals, and parents are seeking strategies, policies and solutions, but the scientific evidence to inform these efforts is inadequate. In addition, there is a significant gap in research on children and adolescents — age 12-17 — due to appropriately stringent legal and ethical standards that have made conducting these studies difficult. Nevertheless, major advances in understanding nicotine and vaping in adolescents are dependent on studies in this population.

Priority areas for the End the Lies Youth Vaping and Nicotine Research Initiative identified through a review of the latest available and emerging science, include:

  • Nicotine’s impact on adolescent brain development, intelligence, and learning;
  • The physiological impact of nicotine and other e-cigarette chemicals;
  • The role and influence of device type, flavors and other e-cigarette chemicals and byproducts on addiction;
  • How to reverse nicotine addiction in youth using behavioral, pharmacological and/or mobile health technology solutions;
  • Natural history and progression of e-cigarettes and other novel nicotine delivery devices including dual-use, transitions to/from combustible tobacco, and cessation effectiveness, with a focus on equity and variations among populations;
  • The impact of policies eliminating flavors, imposing sales age restrictions and restricting marketing practices on youth e-cigarette use.

The End the Lies Youth Vaping and Nicotine Research Initiative will fund projects for a two-year period. Selected projects each will receive $7 to $10 million — an amount that would represent the third-largest single grant the American Heart Association has ever awarded and is 40 times larger than its typical grant. Interested researchers are invited to apply through January 14, 2020. The Association will announce the projects in the spring of 2020.

More on Preventing Youth Nicotine Addiction Policy Fund

Through this new policy fund, created with foundational support from Kaiser Permanente, the Association will amplify its policy research and advocacy efforts in support of meaningful public policies that prevent youth e-cigarette use.

These efforts include urging the Food and Drug Administration to exercise robust regulatory authority over e-cigarettes, such as by removing all flavored e-cigarettes – including menthol – from the market and prohibiting flavored tobacco products of any kind.

In addition, the American Heart Association will continue its years-long efforts at the federal, state and community levels to:

  • Restrict tobacco sales to adults 21 and older;
  • Prohibit marketing to kids;
  • Include e-cigarettes in comprehensive smoke-free laws; and
  • Tax e-cigarettes at the same rates as traditional tobacco, among other policies.

More on #QuitLying — youth-focused community campaign

Through the #QuitLying movement, the American Heart Association is investing in the creation of digital and social media tools for students and schools to use to spark a rallying cry against the lies of Big Vape.

Leveraging four decades working in schools, the Superintendent Forum and grassroots action planning, the Association will activate in communities across the country. Teens, parents, and educators are encouraged to join the initiative. Learn more at www.quitlying.org.


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