HEALTH

Survey: Youth tobacco use flattens in 2017

FDA says rate of e-cigarette usage "particularly concerning"

BY Antoinette Alexander

As new and novel tobacco products that appeal to youth continue to hit the market, research shows that tobacco use rates among middle and high school students essentially flattened in 2017 after an encouraging decline from 2015 to 2016, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey results, released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among high school students, there were minor declines in cigarette use (7.6 percent; down 4 percentage points versus 2016) offset by slight increases in e-cigarette (11.7 percent; up 4 percentage points versus 2016) use. Cigar usage among high school students was unchanged (7.7 percent) and is now nearly equal to cigarette use.

While these numbers are much lower than they were five years ago, the lack of continued progress in 2016 is frustrating and worrying, stated Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative, a national public health organization, noting that the rates may be stagnating due to the proliferation of new and novel tobacco products that appeal to youth.

According to the 2017 NYTS data, 3.6 million middle and high school students currently use tobacco products. Among those users, nearly half (46.8 percent) of high school and (41.8 percent) of middle school students report use of two or more tobacco products. E-cigarette use among high school students remained flat this year with 2.1 million students (11.7 percent of high school students and 3.3 percent of middle school students) reporting past 30-day use.

Commenting on the survey results, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said, “While fewer youth are using cigarettes and other combustible tobacco products, we must do more to address the disturbingly high number of youth who are using e-cigarettes and vaping products. We must not lose sight of the fact that for the past several years, e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among both middle and high school students and a total of 2.1 million youth used e-cigarettes in 2017.”

Continued Gottlieb, “These figures are particularly concerning because youth exposure to nicotine — whether it comes from a cigarette or an e-cigarette — affects the developing brain and may rewire it to be more susceptible to nicotine addiction in the future. And while there was no change in e-cigarette use from 2016 to 2017 among high school-aged teens, it’s too soon to tell whether this represents a leveling off, following a steep decline from 2015 to 2016. But this bears watching.”

As previously reported, the FDA is ramping up efforts to address youth use of e-cigarettes.

In April, as a new part of its comprehensive plan on nicotine and tobacco regulation, the FDA announced the Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan. The plan began with a nationwide blitz of brick-and-mortar and online retailers that led to warning letters to businesses that sold JUUL brand products to minors. The agency also issued numerous warning letters — many in partnership with the Federal Trade Commission — to manufacturers, distributors and retailers for selling e-liquids used in e-cigarettes with labeling and/or advertising that cause them to resemble kid-friendly food products. These e-liquid products resemble juice boxes, candy or cookies, and some of them included cartoon-like imagery.

The agency is also taking a closer look at certain design features and product marketing practices and has required JUUL Labs Inc. and the manufacturers/importers of several other similar products to provide information to further examine marketing practices and the youth use and appeal of these types of products.

The FDA is also conducting focus groups with teens across the country about e-cigarettes and, later this year, will be launching a full-scale campaign focused on youth use of e-cigarettes.

“Additionally, we’re exploring clear and meaningful measures to make tobacco products less toxic, appealing and addictive — with an intense focus on deterring youth use and exposure. This could include measures on flavors/designs that appeal to youth, child-resistant packaging and product labeling to prevent accidental child exposure to liquid nicotine. We also plan to explore additional restrictions on the sale and promotion of electronic nicotine delivery systems to further reduce youth exposure and access to these products,” Gottlieb added.

Said Koval, “Today’s report only emphasizes the need to bring more of these proven policies to all Americans. While the public education efforts from truth, the CDC and the FDA have all been proven effective, they cannot fully do their job when countervailing influences offset that effectiveness. We can’t take our foot off the gas when it comes to fighting against this epidemic that kills 540,000 Americans every year and an industry that continues to spend more than $9 billion to market their deadly products.”

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New Hampshire adopts retail tech to prevent illegal sales of pseudoephedrine

BY Antoinette Alexander

New Hampshire has adopted the real-time, stop-sale National Precursor Log Exchange technology, becoming the 35th state to adopt the system used by retailers across the country to help prevent the illegal sale of pseudoephedrine.

The legislation was signed Thursday by Gov. Chris Sununu in Lanconia, N.H., at Lakes Regional Hospital.

NPLEx has proven to be a useful tool in the fight against PSE diversion across the country. The system helps to prevent purchases by potential meth criminals while also protecting access to these safe and effective medicines for law-abiding consumers, including Advil Cold & Sinus, Allegra-D, Claritin-D, Mucinex D, and Sudafed. New Hampshire joins neighboring states Vermont and Maine, which adopted the system in previous years.

Aside from blocking illegal sales right at the pharmacy counter, the NPLEx system provides law enforcement with valuable, real-time data on potential criminal activity.

“We are committed to continue reducing the local methamphetamine production problem using solutions that are proven to work,” said New Hampshire State Senator, Sharon Carson. “The adoption of NPLEx here in New Hampshire shows our commitment, and it gives law enforcement and pharmacists – those serving on the front line – new tools and resources to help curb meth production in our state, while also protecting law-abiding citizens’ access to the medicines they need.”

The announcement comes after a recent report from the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators showing that, so far nationwide in 2018, between Jan. 1 and Mach 31, NPLEx has blocked the illegal sale of 226,670 boxes of medicine containing PSE, keeping 786,753 grams of PSE out of the hands of potential criminals.”

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DarioHealth: iPhone-enabled app sees positive market response

BY Antoinette Alexander

DarioHealth, a global digital health company with mobile health and big data solutions, announced on Thursday that it has witnessed positive market acceptance for its recently launched Lightning-enabled Blood Glucose Monitoring System, which enables the use of the Dario app on iPhone 7, 8 and X smart mobile devices.

DarioHealth received U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance for the Lightning-enabled version of its Dario Blood Glucose Monitoring System, sold as Dario LC Blood Glucose Monitoring System, in March 2018 and commenced pre-orders from subscription holders in April 2018.

“We are very pleased with the market response to our Dario LC Blood Glucose Monitoring System. The growth in new customer purchases is an important indicator of the U.S. market opportunity for our smart glucose meter,” said Erez Raphael, chairman and CEO of DarioHealth. “Given the substantial installed base of iPhone 7, 8, and X smart mobile devices, we are experiencing rapid activation and onboarding. This gives us confidence as we continue to develop and expand our product offering towards pure membership and coaching, while also expanding our business-to-business and business-to-consumer channels.”

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