The tobacco industry is targeting a new generation of kids with flavored tobacco products and lower prices. In 2009 the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the sale of flavored cigarettes (other than menthol) because they appeal to youth. But flavored e-cigarettes, e-liquid, cigars, hookah, and chewing tobacco are still allowed to be sold. Most teens who use tobacco start with a flavored product. Flavors, including menthol, make it easier to start smoking because they taste good, and make tobacco smoke less harsh and easier to breathe in. Young people are much more likely to use candy-and-fruit-flavored tobacco products than adults. Smokers who start at a younger age, are more likely to develop a severe nicotine addiction.
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Sweet Flavors & Youth
Ninety-six % (96%) of Butte County stores randomly surveyed in 2016 sold flavored tobacco products. Little cigars/cigarillos are sold in a wide variety of flavors like grape, mango and chocolate and are regularly sold in packs of 2 or more for under $1. The same survey showed that 78% of Butte County stores sold e-cigarettes, which are usually flavored.
According to the California Healthy Kids Survey, Butte County youth now use e-cigarettes at twice the rate they smoke combustible cigarettes (8% vs. 4%, respectively).
A 2018 survey showed that 20% of stores in Chico did not check IDs before selling flavored tobacco products to minors. (California law prohibits sale of tobacco to anyone under the age of 21.)
View the Information for Parents, Educators and Health Care Providers (PDF) about E-cigarettes.
Health Risks of Flavoring Chemicals
Over 15,000 e-cigarette flavors exist. These flavors are created by using chemicals, some of which are toxic to the lungs. Common flavoring chemicals include benzaldehyde - a respirator irritant that causes death in rabbits exposed to it, cinnamaldehyde - a chemical found to be toxic to human cells at certain doses, and diacetyl - associated with a condition called popcorn lung which damages cell lining and scars the lungs. While many chemicals found in flavorings are regarded as safe to eat, the health impact of inhaling them are largely unknown.
Learn more about E-cigarette Liquids (PDF).
What Can be Done?
- Talk to your children and their friends about the harmful chemicals that exist in flavored e-liquids.
- Contact your local elected officials and ask them to take steps to protect your community's youth from easy access to flavored tobacco products.
- Support increased federal regulation of product and manufacturing standards, ingredient labeling, health warnings and marketing restrictions for e-liquids.