Study: flavored products increase likelihood of future tobacco use

Cleveland Clinic News Service
Cleveland Clinic News Service (Cleveland Clinic News Service)

E-cigarettes or ‘vaping’ products have now contributed to more than 2,000 cases of lung injury in the U.S., according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And as flavored tobacco products continue to make headlines, a recent study looks into what happens when teens and young adults try them.

“They saw that people as young as 12 years old – when they started to use a tobacco product – 50-70 percent of the time, it was actually something that was flavored,” said Cleveland Clinic doctor Humberto Choi who did not take part in the study. “So, it seems to be something that is drawing people to tobacco products – the actual flavoring.”

The study looked at data on more than 38,000 people between the ages of 12-25. Participants were asked about flavored and non-flavored tobacco products. Some of the flavors included were mint, menthol, candy, fruit, chocolate and other sweet flavors.

Researchers found that despite the type of tobacco product that was used, if a young person first used a flavored product, they were more likely to continue using tobacco one year later. They also found that the younger the person, the more likely they were to use a flavored product.

Choi said it can be difficult for parents to pick up on the fact that their child is using these products, because they don’t smell like traditional cigarettes, they tend to smell fruity or sweet. He believes parents should talk to their children upfront about the dangers of trying flavored tobacco products.

“It’s good for parents to have a conversation with their kids about the dangers of smoking and to let them know there are things that can sound appealing – like something that has a sweet flavor, or a fruit flavor – that can be attractive to them,” said Dr. Choi. “Parents have to be mindful about those products, and do whatever they can to educate their children not to use them.”

Experts are now looking at putting different policies in place in the hopes of curbing the availability of flavored tobacco products to young people. Read the full study.