Flavors in Tobacco Products: Attracting & Addicting Youth

September 29, 2022

Flavors are a marketing weapon the tobacco manufacturers use to target youth and young people to a lifetime of addiction. Altering tobacco product ingredients and design, like adding flavors, can improve the ease of use of a product by masking harsh effects, facilitating nicotine uptake, and increasing a product’s overall appeal.[i] Candy, fruit, mint and menthol flavorings in tobacco products are a promotional tool to lure new, young users, and are aggressively marketed with creative campaigns by tobacco companies.[ii] Products with flavors like cherry, grape, cotton candy, and gummy bear are clearly not aimed at established, adult tobacco users and years of tobacco industry documents confirm the intended use of flavors to target youth.[iii] Furthermore, youth report flavors as a leading reason why they use tobacco products and perceive flavored products as less harmful.[iv],[v]  The use of any flavored tobacco product among youth is concerning because it exposes them to a lifetime of nicotine addiction, disease, and premature death.


 

[i] FDA Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff, “General Questions and Answers on the Ban of Cigarettes that Contain Certain Characterizing Flavors (Edition 2) (“FDA Guidance on Characterizing Flavors”).

[ii] Delnevo, C, et al., “Preference for flavoured cigar brands among youth, young adults and adults in the USA,” Tobacco Control, epub ahead of print, April 10, 2014. King, BA, et al., “Flavored-Little-Cigar and Flavored-Cigarette Use Among U.S. Middle and High School Students,” Journal of Adolescent Health 54(1):40-6, January 2014.

[iii] Carpenter CM, Wayne GF, Pauly JL, Koh HK, Connolly GN. New cigarette brands with flavors that appeal to youth: tobacco marketing strategies. Health Affairs. 2005; 24(6): 1601-1610.

[iv] Ambrose et al. Flavored tobacco product use among U.S. youth aged 12-17 years, 2013-2014. JAMA, 2015; 314(17): 1871-3.

[v] Huang L-L, Baker HM, Meernik C, Ranney LM, Richardson A, Goldstein AO. Impact of non-menthol flavours in tobacco products on perceptions and use among youth, young adults and adults: a systematic review. Tobacco Control 2016.