Candy-Flavored Tobacco Products Entice Younger Consumers

Tobacco companies have introduced new products aimed at younger demographics. These candy-flavored products are just as harmful as other tobacco products and attract kids with bright packaging that looks similar to candy. Below are some articles describing this new trend.

New Study: Sweet Tobacco Products Use Same Flavor Chemicals as Candy and Kool-Aid

FDA Must Act to Prevent Tobacco Companies from Using Flavors to Lure Kids

Statement of Matthew L. Myers

President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, DC – 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 today 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.

“The same, familiar, chemical-specific flavor sensory cues that are associated with fruit flavors in popular candy and drink products are being exploited in the engineered designs of flavored tobacco products.  What we are seeing is truly candy-flavored tobacco,” the researchers wrote in a research letter published by the journal.

It is deeply disturbing that 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 move quickly and within one year 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 kids.

The new study was conducted by a team of researchers at Portland State University led by Professor James F. Pankow. The researchers analyzed 12 artificially flavored candy and fruit drink products, including different versions of LifeSavers, Jolly Ranchers and Kool-Aid, and compared them to 15 widely-available flavored cigar and smokeless tobacco products.  They found significant overlap in the flavor chemicals used.  One example – the flavor chemicals used in cherry Kool-Aid and “Wild Cherry” Cheyenne cigars are extremely similar.

When flavored cigarettes were banned, some companies modified their flavored cigarettes to meet the legal definition of cigars (e.g., by adding tobacco to the wrapper) and continued to market them with sweet flavors.  According to the study published today, “Because some cigars are now structurally very similar to cigarettes, the ability to flavor cigars translates into the continued availability of flavored cigarette-like products.”  “Wild Cherry” Cheyenne cigars are just one example of this conversion.

Tobacco industry documents show that the industry has long recognized the benefits of sweet flavors in attracting new tobacco users, especially kids.  According to an October 2013 CDC study on youth 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.”

The availability of cheap, sweet cigars has helped fuel an increase in cigar sales even while cigarette sales have declined.  Between 2000 and 2013, cigar consumption increased by 114 percent, while cigarette consumption declined by 37 percent.  According to national surveys, 17.8 percent of high school boys currently smoke cigars (i.e., large cigars, cigarillos and small cigars), and every day more than 2,700 kids try cigar smoking for the first time.  The most popular cigar brands among youth – including top three brands Black & Mild, Swisher Sweets and White Owl – come in a wide variety of flavors, such as peach, strawberry, chocolate, grape, blueberry, wild apple, pineapple and watermelon.

Tobacco use is the number one 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.  Today’s study provides more evidence for the FDA to act quickly to stop the tobacco industry from using flavored products to addict children.


Not your Grandfather’s Cigar: A New Generation of Cheap and Sweet Cigars Threatens a New Generation of Kids


NBC News

Yes, Those Candy-Flavored Smokes Do Taste Like Candy

By Maggie Fox

Candy-flavored cigars, snuff and e-cigarettes really do taste like candy, and they seem to be flavored with the same ingredients used in Kool-Aid, Jolly Ranchers and other kid-oriented treats, researchers reported on Wednesday.

The Food and Drug Administration has outlawed the use of candy and other flavorings, except menthol, in cigarettes, but hasn’t extended this ban to other tobacco products, not even in its decision last month to regulate cigars, hookah tobacco and e-cigarettes.

This outraged anti-tobacco campaigners, who accuse makers of these products of trying to hook teenagers on nicotine. But makers of e-cigarettes said even flavors such as bubble gum are aimed at adults, not kids.

James Pankow of Portland State University and colleagues decided to test whether the flavors were even close to products legally aimed at kids, such as Zotz candy.

They found many of the same chemical combinations in candy products and in the tobacco products, including benzaldehyde and benzyl alcohol.

“What we are seeing is truly candy-flavored tobacco,” they wrote in a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine. “The same familiar, chemical-specific flavor sensory cues that are associated with fruit flavors in popular candy and drink products are being exploited in the engineered designs of flavored tobacco products.”

This means the FDA needs to regulate these flavorings in cigars and e-cigarettes, said the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.

“Candy flavorings are currently banned in cigarettes, but that ban does not extend to cigarillos, large cigars, roll-your-own tobacco, hookah tobacco and e-cigarettes, all of which are growing in popularity among youth,” said Chris Hansen, president of lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society.

“In fact, a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 40 percent of current middle and high school students who smoke use flavored smoking products such as small cigars or menthol flavored cigarettes," Hansen added.

"There is growing concern that flavorings such as grape and cherry, and others with appealing names including ‘brownie’ and ‘gummy bear’, now found in many small cigars, hookah tobacco and e-cigarettes, can entice youth to try these products and potentially lead to a life-long, deadly addiction."

First published May 7th 2014, 4:02 pm


How Candy E-Cigarette Makers Make Their Products Smell Like Candy

New research finds that the same flavor chemicals are present in candy and candy-flavored tobacco products.

By Clara Ritger

May 7, 2014

The same chemicals used to flavor Jolly Ranchers and Kool-Aid are being used in tobacco products, new research finds.

While candy-flavored tobacco products have been on the market for years, the researchers at Portland State University in Oregon are the first to discover that the same chemicals are used to create the characterizing flavors in candy and tobacco products.

"If you take and smell a grape Phillies blunt, you're smelling the same chemical used in grape Kool-Aid," said James Pankow, a professor at Portland State and the lead researcher for the study.

The findings come on the heels of the Food and Drug Administration's newly proposed regulations on e-cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products.

The new regulations would treat those tobacco products like cigarettes, banning their sale to minors, but they do not outlaw candy flavorings.

Candy-flavored cigarettes have been outlawed since 2009, the year the Tobacco Control Act granted the FDA more oversight over the tobacco industry.

"Almost 90 percent of adult smokers start smoking as teenagers. These flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in a 2009 press release about the congressional ban.

Pankow quoted Hamburg in his report, published Wednesday.

"It's not clear to me why the same logic isn't being applied to these products," he said.

The FDA is in the process of reviewing the literature on the impact of candy-flavored tobacco products on use.

Pankow's findings appear in the New England Journal of Medicine.


From the Oregonian

Tobacco and candy flavored with same chemicals, PSU study finds

By Lynne Terry |

May 07, 2014 at 2:30 PM, updated May 07, 2014 at 2:31 PM

A Portland State University study released Wednesday reveals that the flavorings in popular candy, Kool-Aid and some tobacco products are much the same.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 12 artificially flavored types of candy and fruit drinks, including LifeSavers, Jolly Ranchers and Kool-Aid, and 15 common tobacco products, including cigarette-like cigars, cigarillos and cigars, all containing flavorings. What the PSU team discovered was that the same chemicals popped up in both sets of products.

"These tobacco products are flavored in the same way as candy and Kool-Aid," said James Pankow, chemistry professor at PSU. "It's no coincidence."

He added: "People can decide for themselves whether it is a good thing or not."

The study, led by Pankow, included a master's chemistry student, Jessica Brown, and two chemistry lab staff members, Wentai Luo and the late Lorne Isabelle, who died in January.

Pankow said they decided to delve in the comparisons following concerns that "cherry," "grape", "apple" and "peach" tobacco products, for example, constituted candy-flavored tobacco. He wanted to see if there were chemical similarities.

Health officials have accused the tobacco industry of using artificial flavorings to lure young people to smoking. The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act banned the use of "characterizing flavors" in cigarettes but it does not prevent flavorings in little cigars, cigarillos, loose pipe tobacco, moist snuff and tobacco rolling papers.

Brian Druker, director of the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, said the study represents a key step in revealing what might be driving young people to smoke.

"Understanding the interplay between sweet flavoring and tobacco use will better equip us to protect the health of our children and reinforce lifestyle choices that aid in cancer prevention, Druker said in a statement.

—Lynne Terry


From Healthday

Little Cigars Liked by Teens Are Still 'Candy-Flavored Tobacco': Report

Researchers found some of the cigars, which are unregulated by FDA, had more chemical flavoring than candy or Kool-Aid

WEDNESDAY, May 7, 2014 (HealthDay News)—Scientists report that the flavored "little cigars" popular among American teens are essentially "candy-flavored tobacco."

The finding could be important to U.S. health officials, who are concerned that those sweet flavors mask the bitter taste of tobacco, and may lure young people into a highly addictive habit that carries great health risks.

In an analysis, published as a research letter in the May 7 online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from Portland State University in Oregon compared the chemical flavorings, and levels of those flavorings, in candy, Kool-Aid and flavored tobacco products.

The investigators found there was a lot of overlap in the kinds of flavorings used in all three products, and that some of the tobacco products had much higher levels of flavorings than the candies or Kool-Aid did.

"The same, familiar, chemical-specific flavor sensory cues that are associated with fruit flavors in popular candy and drink products are being exploited in the engineered designs of flavored tobacco products," the researchers wrote in their letter. "What we are seeing is truly candy-flavored tobacco."

More than two out of every five teen smokers already use these flavored products, according to an October 2013 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And nearly 60 percent of those smoking these little cigars have no desire to quit, compared to 49 percent of other cigar smokers, the CDC noted.

Although the sale of flavored cigarettes has been banned in the United States since 2009, tobacco companies have sidestepped the ban by producing these little cigars, which weigh slightly more than cigarettes and so avoid regulation. Cigars are not currently regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

When the CDC report was first released back in October, agency officials warned of the health dangers inherent in these products.

"Flavored or not, cigars cause cancer, heart disease, lung disease and many other health problems. Flavored little cigars appeal to youth and the use of these tobacco products may lead to disfigurement, disability and premature death," CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in an agency news release at the time. "We need to take comprehensive steps to reduce all tobacco use for all of our youth."

Another CDC official put it this way:

"Many little cigars bear a remarkable resemblance to cigarettes. In fact, some youth who are smoking cigarettes may be smoking flavored little cigars that they've mistaken for cigarettes," said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "The concern it raises for us is because little cigars are so similar to cigarettes, this represents a loophole in the FDA's ban on flavored cigarettes."

Little cigars have become more popular in recent years, according to the CDC. Sales increased 240 percent from 1997 to 2007, with flavored brands making up almost 80 percent of the cigar market.

More information

For more about tobacco use among young people, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: May 7, 2014, New England Journal of Medicine, online