Appletini, Cherry Vanilla, or Chocolate Strawberry? You may mistake these flavours for hard candies, ice cream, or, in the case of appletini, an alcoholic beverage. However, these flavours are not describing any of these. They are actually flavours you can find in tobacco.
Most people do not know that these options are even on the market. Lawmakers and parents are concerned that the flavours in “cigarillos” (little cigars) directly appeal to children, grabbing their attention with delicious and catchy names, and masking the true taste of tobacco, getting the child addicted. Studies have shown that these flavours can mask the harshness and taste of tobacco, particularly for a person who has not previously smoked. Since 88% of adults who smoke say they started smoking by the age of 18, kids’ experimentation with tobacco more often than not turns into a lifetime habit.
While cigar manufacturers claim that these flavours are designed to attract adults, advocates of a ban aren’t buying it, stating that adults who smoke have already been hooked by tobacco as it is, without flavouring. They do not seek out cherry, vanilla, or grape flavours.
Some provinces in Canada, like Alberta, have already adopted bans on selling flavoured tobacco products. In Ontario, legislation is currently on the table that would ban the sale of all candy flavoured tobacco products to youth under the age of 18. Ontario had previously passed a private member’s bill that prohibited stores from selling candy and fruit flavoured cigarillos to youth, but it specified that the banned products had a filter and a certain amount of tobacco. Thus, producers found a loophole even before the bill went into effect by removing filters and adding even more tobacco, so a broader ban was proposed. However, the new proposed bill would not ban other tobacco-based flavoured products such as twist sticks, dissolvable strips and lozenges, which can contain up to three times more nicotine as the smoked cigarette!
Internationally, bans on flavoured tobacco products have taken place in some American states, and in countries such as Australia and Brazil. The European Union has also approved new anti-tobacco legislation, which includes a ban on smoking tobacco products containing flavours which will come into force in 2016.
There is good reason for any governmental body to consider banning such products. Studies show that they are heavily used by students. In Canada, for example, the Youth Smoking Survey (2010-11) found that out of the 14% of high school students (Grades 9-12), who were found to have used tobacco during the 30 day survey period, 52% of them had used flavoured tobacco products. In the U.S, more than two out of every five middle and high school students reported using flavoured little cigars or flavoured cigarettes. Additionally, the majority of these kids do not plan on quitting anytime soon, according to the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey.