National Alliance for Hispanic Health Says FDA’s Recent Tobacco Action Will ‘Save Lives’
Tobacco and the health problems that can arise from its use have been societal issues for many years, but lawmakers and leaders of the Hispanic health community believe new legislation will help support efforts to combat the destructive habit. According to a press release on PRnewswire.com, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established new regulations regarding tobacco products that will go into effect 90 days from when it was finalized on May 5.
The new rule is really an extension of the bipartisan Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009. Up until this point, there were no federal laws or regulations on cigars, hookah tobacco, pipe tobacco, and — most relative to today’s youth — e-cigarettes. The new regulations will prohibit the sale of these products to anyone under the age of 18 as well as prevent the distribution of free samples.
While people across the country are applauding these efforts, many in the Hispanic community believe it will be especially important to the young people in their communities, who are typically over-represented when it comes to smoking statistics.
“Today’s action by the FDA will save lives by finally including cigars, hookah tobacco, pipe tobacco and e-cigarettes as regulated products,” said Dr. Jane L. Delgado, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health (the Alliance), the nation’s leading Hispanic health advocacy group. “No form of tobacco use is safe and the rise of smoking among Hispanic youth, particularly use of e-cigarettes, has created a tobacco tipping point that unless reversed will result in a generation of tobacco related disease and early death.”
Approximately 4.7 million middle and high school students were current users (at least once in past 30 days) of a tobacco product in 2015, according to data published last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When looking at middle school kids, Hispanics were found to be more likely users by a significant margin at 10.6% compared to non-Hispanic white (6.3%) and black (6.6%) students.
Unsurprising to anyone paying attention was also the fact that e-cigarettes have become the most popular tobacco product choice for young people. Among high school students, usage of these products increased by almost 15% from 2011 to 2015.
Tobacco use can result in a plethora of negative side effects that can have a lasting impact on a person’s life. It can yellow teeth and leave a person with an unattractive smile, something 74% of adults feel can hurt their career success; smoking also leads to serious and potentially deadly diseases like cancer.
“Hispanic adults have always had smoking rates below the national average, resulting in lower rates of heart disease and other smoking related illness,” said Delgado. “However, the data released last month show that Hispanic middle school students are now more likely than their peers to use tobacco. It’s a tobacco tipping point, but actions like today’s historic move by the FDA will help families reverse this threat to the health of our children and communities.”