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Letter: Flavored tobacco used to get children addicted

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Stephanie Womack


It should be known that tobacco companies are using the same flavor chemicals in their sweet-flavored tobacco products, including cigars of various sizes and smokeless tobacco, that are used in popular candy and drink products such as LifeSavers, Jolly Ranchers and Kool-Aid, according to research published recently in The New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers found that several of the tobacco products contained flavor chemicals at much higher concentrations than in the non-tobacco products.

It is deeply disturbing the tobacco industry is using the same flavors found in popular candy and drink products to lure kids to use candy-flavored tobacco products.

The 2009 federal law giving the Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products banned candy- and fruit-flavored cigarettes. But other tobacco products, including cigars, smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes, continue to be available in a wide range of sweet flavors. This research is more evidence that the FDA should prohibit tobacco companies from using flavors that appeal to kids.

The FDA must quickly finalize its new proposed rule to begin regulating cigars, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products not currently under its jurisdiction. The FDA must also begin immediately to develop regulations that close gaps in the proposed rule by restricting flavors and marketing that appeal to children.

Tobacco industry documents show that the industry has long recognized the benefits of sweet flavors in attracting new tobacco users, especially children.

According to an October 2013 CDC study on youths’ use of flavored tobacco products, “Flavors can mask the natural harshness and taste of tobacco, making flavored tobacco products easier to use and increasing their appeal among youth. Advertising for flavored tobacco products has been targeted toward youth, and flavored product use may influence the establishment of lifelong tobacco-use patterns among younger individuals.”

Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing 480,000 people and costing the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and other economic losses each year. This study provides more evidence for the FDA to act quickly to stop the tobacco industry from using flavored products to addict children.

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