Flavour types used by youth and adult tobacco users in wave 2 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study 2014-2015

Tob Control. 2020 Jul;29(4):432-446. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2018-054852. Epub 2019 Sep 21.


Background: Most youth and young adult (YA) tobacco users use flavoured products; however, little is known about specific flavours used.

Methods: We report flavour types among US tobacco users from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study, wave 2, 2014-2015. At wave 2, we examined (1) flavour use and type at past 30-day use; (2) new flavoured tobacco product use and type; (3) product-specific flavour patterns across youth (ages 12-17) (n=920), YA (18-24) (n=3726) and adult (25+) (n=10 346) past 30-day and new tobacco users and (4) concordance between self-coded and expert-coded brand flavour type among all adults (18+).

Results: Prevalence of flavoured tobacco product use was highest among youth, followed by YA and adult 25+ any tobacco users. Within each age group, flavoured use was greatest among hookah, e-cigarette and snus users. Overall, menthol/mint, fruit and candy/sweet were the most prevalent flavour types at first and past 30-day use across age groups. For past 30-day use, all flavour types except menthol/mint exhibited an inverse age gradient, with more prevalent use among youth and YAs, followed by adults 25+. Prevalence of menthol/mint use was high (over 50% youth, YAs; 76% adults 25+) and exhibited a positive age gradient overall, though the reverse for cigarettes. Brand-categorised and self-reported flavour use measures among adults 18+ were moderately to substantially concordant across most products.

Conclusions: Common flavours like menthol/mint, fruit and candy/sweet enhance appeal to young tobacco users. Information on flavour types used by product and age can inform tobacco flavour regulations to addess flavour appeal especially among youth.

Keywords: non-cigarette tobacco products; packaging and labelling; public policy; surveillance and monitoring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Flavoring Agents*
  • Forecasting
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Use / trends*
  • United States
  • Vaping / epidemiology*
  • Vaping / trends*
  • Young Adult


  • Flavoring Agents