sign up

Ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, is a critical step to reverse the youth e-cigarette epidemic and create the first tobacco-free generation. There is a growing movement by policy makers at all levels, and especially at the state and city level, to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products.

The tobacco industry has a long history of targeting kids with flavored products, and the evidence is clear that flavors play a key role in youth initiation and continued use of tobacco products. Flavors improve the taste and mask the harshness of tobacco products, making it easier for kids to try these products and ultimately become addicted.

THE YOUTH E-CIGARETTE EPIDEMIC

Flavored products, especially Juul, have fueled the skyrocketing youth e-cigarette epidemic, which is addicting a generation of kids and threatens to reverse the decades-long progress our nation has made in reducing youth tobacco use.

From 2017 to 2019, current e-cigarette use more than doubled among high school students (from 11.7% to 27.5%) and tripled among middle school students (from 3.3% to 10.5%), according to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Altogether, more than 5.3 million kids now use e-cigarettes. 1.6 million of these kids reported frequent use of e-cigarettes (on at least 20 days a month), which is a strong indication of addiction.


Because of the rise in e-cigarette use, the overall tobacco use rate among high school students is at the highest level (31.2%) in 19 years.

Flavored e-cigarettes have driven this epidemic – 97% of youth e-cigarette users report using a flavored product in the past month and 70% cite flavors as a reason for their use. E-cigarettes are sold in over 15,000 flavors, from mint and menthol to gummy bear and cotton candy.


E-cigarettes pose serious risks to the health of young people. The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that youth use of nicotine in any form, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, particularly the parts of the brain responsible for attention, memory and learning. The Surgeon General also found that using nicotine in adolescence can increase risk of future addiction to other drugs. In addition, studies have found that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become smokers, and many are low-risk youth who would not have otherwise smoked cigarettes.

Juul and other e-cigarettes deliver massive doses of nicotine, putting youth users at greater risk of addiction. Each Juul pod (cartridge of nicotine) delivers as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes.

MENTHOL CIGARETTES TARGET YOUTH, AFRICAN AMERICANS

There is also more than enough evidence to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes. Menthol cools and numbs the throat and reduces the harshness of tobacco smoke, making menthol cigarettes more appealing for kids who are starting to smoke. Over half of youth smokers – including seven in ten African-American youth smokers – use menthol cigarettes. A comprehensive FDA scientific analysis, issued in 2013, concluded that menthol cigarettes 1) increase smoking initiation and progression to regular smoking among youth and young adults; 2) increase nicotine dependence (addiction); and 3) reduce success in quitting smoking.


For decades, the tobacco industry has engaged in targeted marketing of menthol cigarettes to African Americans and to youth. African Americans smoke menthol cigarettes at high rates and quit smoking at lower rates, and African-American men have high death rates from lung cancer. Ending the sale of menthol cigarettes is one of the most important steps policy makers can take to further reduce youth smoking and addressing tobacco-related health disparities.

A GROWING MOVEMENT TO BAN FLAVORED TOBACCO

There are growing efforts by policy makers at all levels to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products. The U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 28, 2020, passed H.R. 2339, the "Protecting American Lungs and Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act." This bill would prohibit all flavored tobacco products – including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Among other things, the bill also makes critical investments in initiatives to prevent kids from using tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and help more smokers quit, especially in medically underserved communities.

States and cities are leading the way in taking action. In 2018, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products when voters overwhelmingly upheld the city’s law against a multi-million-dollar tobacco industry ballot challenge. States and cities taking recent action have included:

  • Massachusetts in November 2019 became the first state to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes. New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island soon followed and ended the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes.
  • New York City became the largest U.S. jurisdiction in the U.S. to prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and is considering legislation to greatly restrict the sale of menthol cigarettes.
  • Sacramento and Los Angeles County are among other localities that have prohibited the sale of all flavored tobacco products.

  

Last Update May 5, 2020