To the Editor,
Cotton candy, gummy bear, banana smash and mint. Enticing flavors tobacco companies are using to hook a new generation of kids to their products. A ploy they’ve been using for decades — because it works.
According to the 2019 Youth Tobacco Survey, 97% of youth e-cigarette users choose flavors and four out of five who have used tobacco started with a flavored product. That’s because flavors improve the taste and mask the harshness of tobacco products, making it easier for kids to try the product and ultimately become addicted. Flavors draw them in, nicotine gets them hooked.
Tobacco companies have been targeting kids for years with other flavored products as well, including cigars in hundreds of flavors and menthol cigarettes. In fact, over half of youth smokers ages 12-17 – and seven in ten African American youth smokers – use menthol cigarettes. The Federal Drug Administration and others have found that menthol cigarettes lead to increased smoking initiation among youth and young adults, greater addiction and decreased success in quitting smoking.
Tobacco companies should not be permitted to use flavors including menthol as a marketing tool to increase their appeal to young people and put their health at risk. These products should be removed from the market immediately.