Flavored Tobacco Product Use among Youth and Young Adults: What if Flavors Didn't Exist?

Tob Regul Sci. 2017 Apr;3(2):168-173. doi: 10.18001/TRS.3.2.4.


Objective: We aimed to determine the potential for reductions in the prevalence of young people's e-cigarette and tobacco use if characterizing flavors were not present.

Methods: Two parallel cross-sectional surveys of 2483 youth (TATAMS: Texas Adolescent Tobacco and Marketing Surveillance System) and 4326 young adults (M-PACT: Marketing and Promotions across Colleges in Texas) in Texas (Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Austin). Current use of e-cigarettes and other tobacco (cigarettes, cigar products, hookah, smokeless tobacco). Users were asked: "When you use [product], do you usually use any of the following flavors?" Flavored product users were asked: "Would you continue using [product] if it were not flavored?"

Results: Over 80% of youth and young adult tobacco users reported using flavored tobacco. Three-fourths of flavored product users said they would no longer use the product if it was not flavored. This was highest for e-cigarettes and hookah and lowest for cigarettes. Few demographic differences in findings were observed.

Conclusions: Restricting flavors in tobacco products would not eradicate e-cigarette or other tobacco use among young people, but the potential for substantial reductions in the prevalence of young people's e-cigarette and other tobacco use seems high if flavors were removed.

Keywords: tobacco product flavors; tobacco use reduction; young adults; youth.