The Dangers of Flavored Tobacco Products


Department of Health and Human Services
Sherri Heller

6/18/2013 10:00 PM

Media Contact:

Laura McCasland    (916) 875-2008


Tobacco products like cigarettes, hookah, chewing tobacco, cigarillos, cigars, dry snuff, dip, and nicotine dissolvables have flavorings added to increase their appeal and palatability.  Many come in a variety of flavors such as menthol, vanilla, orange, apple, cola, chocolate, cherry, coffee, and grape.

Research shows that flavored tobacco products are widely considered as “starter” products, and people who use them are more likely to become “hooked” than someone trying non-flavored tobacco products for the first time. The flavoring masks the harshness of the tobacco products which makes them more addictive and harder to quit. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), flavored tobacco is more addictive than regular tobacco products.

In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned all flavored cigarettes except those containing menthol and was given the authority to regulate other tobacco products.
There are a variety of new, smokeless, flavored tobacco products including dry snuff, dip and chew, nicotine dissolvables, e-cigarette, snus and energy dip.  These products are popular with youth because they are appealing and perceived as safer.  There are few regulations for these products since they are new to the market.  Also, because these products are smokeless, young people can use these products at school and other public places without being identified as a smoker.
The following tobacco products are flavored:

• Cigarettes containing menthol are much more addictive than non-flavored cigarettes.  Menthol is more popular
  among young people, women, and ethnic minorities.  According to the California Department of Public Health,
  African American smokers have the highest rate of smoking menthol cigarettes (82.6%).
• Hookah is a type of water pipe that is smoked communally and comes in many fruity flavors.  Hookah contains
  the same toxins as cigarettes and is associated with lung cancer, respiratory illness, low birth weight and
  periodontal disease.  The CDC states that an hour long hookah smoking session is equivalent to 100-200 times
  the amount of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette.
• Chewing tobacco comes in the form of loose leaf, plug, or twist.  It contains carcinogens and increases the risk
  of developing oral cancer.  According to the CDC, chewing tobacco is strongly associated with precancerous
  white patches in the mouth and a recession of the gums caused by irritation.  According to the County and
  Statewide Archive of Tobacco Statistics (C-Stats), males (14%) have a higher rate of using chewing tobacco
  compared to females (7.7%) in Sacramento.
• Cigars and cigarettes differ in how they are made.  Cigars are rolled tobacco leaves, whereas cigarettes are
  made of tobacco wrapped in paper and have a filter.  According to the National Cancer Institute, when smokers
  inhale from a cigar, nicotine is absorbed through the lungs more quickly than when smoking cigarettes.  Cigars
  and cigarettes have a similar level of risks for oral cavity and esophageal cancer.
• Dry snuff is made from ground tobacco leaves.  It can be sniffed or inhaled and it comes in different flavors.
  The nicotine from snuff is absorbed through the mucous membranes when sniffed or inhaled. According to the
  National Cancer Institute, dry snuff is associated with oral cancer.
• Snus is similar to dry snuff except that it is contained in a small pouch.  It is consumed by being placed under
  the lip.  Snus is not a safer alternative to smoking.  This can lead to nicotine addiction and dependency.  Snus
  can lead to oral, pancreatic, and esophageal cancers.
• Dip and chew are considered moist snuff.  They are placed between the lip and gums.  Most people use them
  by sucking on the product and spitting out the tobacco juices.  A common brand is called Energy Dip which
  provides caffeine in addition to the nicotine.  People who use dip and chew have an increased risk of oral
• Nicotine dissolvables include mints, strips, and sticks that dissolve when placed in the mouth.  Nicotine
  dissolvables are associated with oral cancer, pancreatic cancer and cardiovascular disease.  Children may find 
  the candy-like appearance and added flavoring as attractive.  It can lead to nicotine poisoning if ingested by
• E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices designed to deliver nicotine and flavorings to the user by turning
  chemicals into vapor.  According to the World Health Organization, there are no studies that show e-cigarettes
  to be a safer and effective alternative to cigarettes.  Further, no brands of e-cigarettes have been approved
  as a smoking cessation tool by the Food and Drug Administration as manufacturers have failed to prove the
  safety and efficacy of these devices for cessation.

Flavored tobacco may seem a safer alternative to smoking tobacco, but these products can create serious health problems for youth and adults.  Flavored tobacco is potentially more dangerous than regular tobacco.  New flavored tobacco products are much more discrete and easily consumed in public.  Young people are more likely to use flavored tobacco products because the flavoring masks the strong taste of the tobacco.