The Flavor Trap

10 years ago, Federal Law eliminated all flavored cigarettes other than menthol. However, there are many other flavored tobacco products that are not covered by this law which highlights the health disparities in tobacco use.  The availability of flavors make youth more likely to start using tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, cigars, etc as well as making it harder for people to quit.

  • Flavors improve the taste and reduce the harshness of tobacco products, making them more appealing and easier for beginners to try the product, more difficult to quit and ultimately become addicted. Menthol cools and numbs the throat, reducing the harshness of cigarette smoke, thereby making menthol cigarettes more appealing to youth who are initiating tobacco use. 
  • 81% of youth who ever tried tobacco, chose flavored tobacco as their first tobacco product.
  • Sales of flavored cigars have increased by nearly 50 percent since 2008, and flavored cigars made up more than half (52.1%) of the U.S. cigar market in 2015.
  • According to data from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey (2019 NYTS), the percentage of high school e-cigarette users who reported using mint and menthol flavors increased to 63.9% in 2019. 
  • Menthol cigarette does not affect everyone equally.  Use of menthol cigarettes is more common among youth, female smokers, LGBT smokers, those with mental illness and racial and ethnic minorities, especially African-Americans. Nearly 9 in 10 African-American smokers (88.5 percent) aged 12 years old and older use menthol cigarettes.  
  • The Annals of Internal Medicine published a study that found smokers who used e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking were less likely to quit than those who did not use e-cigarettes. Only 10.1 percent of the smokers who used e-cigarettes had quit smoking after six months compared to 26.6 percent of smokers who did not use e-cigarettes.
  • More than half of all adult e-cigarette users continue to use traditional cigarettes.
  • Switching to e-cigarettes does not mean quitting. Quitting means ending your addiction to nicotine, which can be very difficult. The Food and Drug Administration has not found any e-cigarette to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit.

Resources

Flavored tobacco products attract kids

IMPACT OF MENTHOL CIGARETTES ON YOUTH SMOKING INITIATION AND HEALTH DISPARITIES 

Black Lives/Black Lungs: The Film