There are a lot of conversations about flavored tobacco products – they’ve become one of the biggest health concerns in California. Below are four reasons why flavored tobacco products are so worrisome.
Flavors are tempting because they taste good, and make tobacco smoke less harsh and easier to inhale. Menthol, for example with its cool, minty taste, covers up the harshness of tobacco and makes it easier to smoke.1
But menthol might actually make cigarettes more addictive.2 People who smoke menthol cigarettes are less likely to quit than other smokers.2 And now there are thousands of flavors for e-cigarettes and hookah – e-liquids and shisha come in many candy and fruit flavors like bubblegum, unicorn poop, cotton candy and apple.3
Four out of five teens who use tobacco start with flavored products4 which are tempting to young people because they come in colorful packaging that makes them appear harmless.5 Many young people think flavors make tobacco and smoking safer. Flavors and menthol may make smoking feel less harsh, but it does not make smoking any safer. Flavored tobacco is as dangerous and addicting as nonflavored tobacco.6
The tobacco industry is working hard to paint nicotine as harmless, and not something that should concern parents. Besides making tobacco products addictive, nicotine is also a dangerous neurotoxin – it was once used as an insecticide.7 Nicotine is especially dangerous for youth – it can permanently damage the teen brain,8 interfering with cognitive development and impulse control.9 Or it can just make someone “nic sick,” (nicotine sickness or poisoning) which can include include nausea, vomiting, increased blood pressure, abdominal pain, abnormal heart rate, extreme fatigue, dizziness, headache, hearing and vision changes.10
Below are examples and their risks.
Here’s what parents can do to protect their kids:
To learn more about flavored tobacco products, visit www.flavorshookkids.org.