Tobacco Flavors Target Youth

Additional restrictions on flavored tobacco products would reduce youth use

ONONDAGA COUNTY, APRIL 10, 2024 – Tobacco flavors including menthol have long been used to hook youth on tobacco products. In addition to youth, flavored tobacco products have been heavily marketed to groups including the LGBTQIA+ community, and African Americans. These flavors can be found in multiple different tobacco products, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, loose tobacco, hookahs, and chewing tobacco. Common flavors include fruit flavors such as strawberry, peach, mango or candy flavors like cotton candy, blue razz and sour green apple. Other flavors include mint, cola, dessert flavors and menthol.

Tobacco companies often use flavors along with colorful packaging to encourage youth to start smoking. In 2014 there was a total of 7765 flavors and 466 brands available, since then the number has grown to over 15,000. Packaging plays an important role in marketing towards youth and tobacco products are often packaged to look like sweets and candy. Tobacco companies pair the packaging with attention grabbing names such as “Strawberry-ice”, “Strawberry- Kiwi’, “Blue Razz”, “Papa Smurf”, and “Cereal Killa”. These products are often placed at eye level, or next to candy, to make them even more tempting to youth.

Flavored tobacco products can make it easier for youth to start using by covering the harshness of tobacco. Once the youth start, nicotine addiction keeps them smoking into adulthood. Young adults aged 18-24 years are also choosing flavored products at a higher rate when compared to older adults. Data from 2023 shows that an estimated 2.8 million students in the U.S currently use tobacco products. However more than 2.1 million youth in the U.S. report using e-cigarettes, with flavored products being the most popular. The data also showed that while tobacco use has decreased among high school students, it has increased among middle school students.

Bans on flavored tobacco started back in 2009 with the Family Smoking and Tobacco Prevention Act. Since then, more policies and bans have gone into place at the federal, state and local levels, including a ban on some flavored products in New York State. Regulating, removing and prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products including menthol, and restricting advertising and promotion of tobacco are key to eliminating the sale of these products to youth and reducing youth initiation.

For more information about flavors and current laws, visit and For free help quitting smoking or vaping, contact the New York State Smoker’s Quitline at 1-866-NY_QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or visit For anonymous and confidential support to quit vaping, text “DROPTHEVAPE” to 88709.