Growing up in a rural community where growing and raising tobacco was a primary source of income for many families for years has its perks. Our children learn from an early age what it means to work hard, stay dedicated, and has allowed us to live in a tightly knit community. Over the years, the traditional tobacco market has largely decreased taking with it our lush green field and long, hot summer days but the identity of being a tobacco farmer is still ingrained in many.
In effort to continue to drive revenue the Big Tobacco companies have long since marketed flavored products to increase curiosity and appeal of their products. We have seen more and more teens begin to use products such as JUUL and IQUOS which provided menthol and flavored pods that can be consumed through an electronic cigarette or vape at younger and younger ages.
There is overwhelming evidence that menthol has perpetuated the tobacco epidemic – encouraged initiation, addiction, and disproportionate use by minority and vulnerable population groups, especially Black Americans, rural communities, and youth. Menthol makes it more difficult to quit smoking and is also one of the only sub-sectors of the cigarette market that is still thriving. Young people use menthol tobacco products at disproportionally high rates with 46.1% of high school and 42% of middle school current tobacco users reported using menthol cigarettes in the past 30 days. Menthol cigarettes have long been the “starter” cigarette for young people with menthol flavoring masking tobacco and nicotine harshness.
On April 29th, President Biden and the FDA announced that they will begin the process within the year for rulemaking to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars. We applaud their recognition of this public health crisis in the midst of the pandemic, when people are thinking more about their health. Flavored e-cigarettes which are still widely available and are a key driver of the persistent national youth e-cigarette epidemic. Nearly all young users (82.9%) use flavored products and a majority of young e-cigarette users surveyed cite flavors as a key reason for vaping.
Flavored nicotine products are just a piece of the conversation. To learn more on how to have conversations with the child in your life, please join us May 13th at 6p virtually, for the second in our series "#iCANendthetrend".
For more information on flavored nicotine products or quitting, please visit truthinitiative.org