FLAVORED TOBACCO PRODUCTS

What Are Flavored Tobacco Products?

A flavored tobacco product is any tobacco product that contains an artificial or natural flavor additive. The flavor is added to mask the harsh, bitter flavor of the tobacco. Flavored tobacco products include e-cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, menthol cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and hookah. Currently, there are over 15,000 flavors for e-cigarette juice alone. These include many fruit, candy and dessert flavors.

Why Is This Important?

Flavors attract youth. Youth use flavored tobacco products more than any other age group. Over 80% of youth who have used a tobacco product say the first product they ever used was flavored. [1] Flavored e-cigarettes have fueled the youth e-cigarette epidemic because they are easier to start and harder to quit. More than 2.9 million high school and middle school students currently use flavored e-cigarettes.[2]

Tobacco companies know that flavors make tobacco products more appealing to first-time users and easier to get addicted to. That is why Big Tobacco has been marketing flavored products directly to youth, low-income communities, the LGBTQ+ community and communities of color for decades. Big Tobacco has a long history of researching the flavors that appeal to youth and then heavily marketing those flavors to attract new youth users.[3] Flavored tobacco products also tend to have bright, colorful packages and are often displayed in places that are visible and easily accessible to youth, such as on the checkout counter or next to candy displays.

Recommendations

TRU recommends that all flavored tobacco products be removed from the marketplace, including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and hookah.

Get Involved

Test your knowledge with our Flavored Tobacco Product virtual game below. Then encourage your friends to play by posting about the game on social media.

 

Flavors have fueled the youth e-cigarette epidemic.

Big Tobacco knows fun flavors are much more appealing to youth than plain tobacco. That is why they market sweet fruity and candy-like flavors in colorful packaging. Their goal is to attract and hook first-time youth users.

Do these flavors sound like they were made for adults or youth??

FRUITY FLAVORS – Pink Lemonade, Sour Apple, Blue Raz, Fruit Monster, Watermelon Bubble Gum

Do these flavors sound like they were made for adults or youth??

CANDY & DESSERT: Strawberry Donut, Mint Chip, Jolly Rancher, Pink Bubblegum, Cotton Candy, Sugar Rush

Do these flavors sound like they were made for adults or youth??

CIGARS & CIGARILLOS: Wild Berry, Wild Cherry, Passion Fruit

Don’t take our word for it.

Big Tobacco has been marketing its products toward youth for over 50 years! This is just one of many quotes from a Big Tobacco executive admitting to intentionally targeting youth users. 

What About Menthol?

Half of all youth smokers smoke menthol products.[4] Menthol is a substance naturally found in mint plants, like peppermint and spearmint. Since menthol cools and numbs the throat, it helps to hide the harsh feel of tobacco smoke. This makes menthol products more appealing to youth who have never used a combustible tobacco product. The tobacco industry has spent billions of dollars marketing menthol tobacco products to youth, the LGBTQ+ community, and communities of color over the years.

Are Flavored Tobacco Products Safer?

Many youth view flavored e-cigarettes as less harmful than regular tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes. But that is not true. The e-juice found in flavored e-cigarettes is just as harmful to your health as unflavored e-juice. In fact, the flavor additives that are typically used are not safe to be inhaled into the lungs. So flavored products could be even more harmful. There is no evidence that any flavored tobacco product – cigarette, cigar, smokeless tobacco, or e-cigarette – is safer than the unflavored product.

How Can We Take Action Together?

Flavored tobacco products need to be removed from the market to decrease youth nicotine addiction and protect those negatively affected by tobacco use. Removing all flavored tobacco products – including flavored e-cigarettes and cigars, as well as menthol cigarettes – from the market is critical to preventing youth tobacco use and creating the first tobacco-free generation.

Over the years, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has taken a few small steps to remove flavored tobacco products from the market. FDA banned all flavored cigarettes, except for menthol, in 2009 because these products were known to appeal to youth and young adults. In January 2020, FDA banned tobacco the sale of all flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes, like JUUL. However, this so-called “flavor ban” left thousands of flavored e-cigarettes on the market, including disposable flavored products like Puff Bar. More recently, FDA promised to take steps to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Both of these bans are expected to take years to go into effect. 

Many states across the country aren’t waiting around for FDA to remove the remaining flavored tobacco products. Several cities and counties in New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Illinois, and California have restricted or banned the sale of flavored tobacco. We want Pennsylvania to be next!

Community outreach and advocacy efforts are still in the works. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, help us spread the word about the dangers of flavored tobacco products. Test your knowledge with our virtual flavored tobacco game below. Then encourage your friends to play by posting about the game on social media.

Take the Flavored Tobacco Product Quiz!

References:

[1] American Lung Association and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (2020). The Flavor Trap: How Tobacco Companies are Luring Kids with Candy-Flavored E-Cigarettes and Cigars. Available at https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/microsites/flavortrap/

[2] Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (2019). Tobacco Product Use and Associated Factors Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2019. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/ss/ss6812a1.htm

[3] Kostygina G, Ling PM. Tobacco industry use of flavourings to promote smokeless tobacco products. Tobacco Control. 2016; 25.
Kostygina G, Glantz SA, Ling PM. Tobacco industry use of flavours to recruit new users of little cigars and cigarillos. Tobacco Control. 2014.

[4] Andrea C. Villanti et al., Changes in the Prevalence and Correlates of Menthol Cigarette Use in the USA, 2004–2014. Tobacco Control 2016; 25.