September 14,2015

Press Contact:

Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515 

Wyden Highlights GAO Report Showing E-Cigarettes Do Not Lower Smoking Rates

While E-Cigarette Use Spikes Among Teens and Others, Conventional Smoking Rates Appear Unaffected

E-Cigs Are Currently Exempt from Federal Excise Tax and Age Limits; No Regulations on Ingredients, Flavors, or Advertising

Despite Wyden’s Calls for Increased Transparency, Still Virtually No Oversight of Health Effects or Imports from China

WASHINGTON–Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today highlighted findings from a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report showing the rising use of electronic cigarettes has not lowered the rate of conventional smoking, as measured by federal excise tax revenue.

“Although e-cigarettes are often touted as a way to reduce smoking, today’s report shows that e-cigarette sales do not measurably reduce tobacco consumption,” Wyden said. “Meanwhile, e-cigarette products continue to flow into the country, primarily from China, with virtually none of the safeguards Americans expect for products they put in their bodies. We don’t even know how many e-cigarettes are being imported, much less what they’re made of. It’s time for that to stop.”

The GAO report, requested by Wyden and Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, comes as e-cigarette use continues to grow, especially among teenagers and high school students. A recent CDC survey showed a three-fold increase in the number of teens using e-cigarettes.

While increased e-cigarette use has come as traditional smoking rates among teens continues to drop, there is limited knowledge about the health effects, sources, and contents of e-cigarette products – most of which are imported from China - as they are not currently tracked under any national regulatory or revenue system. The findings also note there is extremely limited data on the price and quantity of e-cigarette products on the market today.

Wyden called for the Federal International Trade Commission to gather more data on e-cigarette imports in a June letter.