To stop a rise in teen smoking, California voters overwhelmingly passed a ban on the sale of flavored cigarettes and tobacco products. But RJ Reynolds and other tobacco companies pushed to block it in court.
The Supreme Court recently denied the request. However, it could be a setback for cities and states considering banning these products.
They appeal to young people
The tobacco industry knows that children are twice as impressionable as adults and do not understand the repercussions of smoking and nicotine addiction. Therefore, it targets youth to sell flavored tobacco products that taste like candy, fruit, and other treats.
Flavored cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, blunt wrap, and e-cigarette packages are often attractively designed with a youthful appearance and bright colors, making them a convenient and tempting first choice for young people. Sweet, fruity, and minty flavors also help mask the harsh taste of tobacco products, which makes them easy for youth to use.
These flavored tobacco products may also appeal to current and former smokers. They can include health-oriented languages, such as organic, no chemicals, and additive-free, making them appear less harmful than other brands.
This tactic can harm youth, as they are more likely to experiment with and use flavored tobacco products than unflavored ones, even though the same amount of harm is created.
In addition to cigarettes, which were initially the only method to buy flavored tobacco products, the industry has expanded to include cigars, smokeless tobacco, and e-cigarettes. These new tobacco products are marketed as a “safe” alternative to cigarettes since they are less noticeable and simpler to locate than traditional tobacco products, which states have banned flavored tobacco.
But although many states and localities have banned flavored tobacco products, some manufacturers continue to produce them. It is why states and localities should enact substantial flavor restrictions with no loopholes.
The industry is attracting seniors
Despite dramatic declines in cigarette sales, the tobacco industry continues to develop new products and marketing strategies designed to protect its shrinking customer base. These include e-cigarettes, enticing non-smokers and former smokers attempting to quit cigarettes while also targeting existing customers.
The tobacco industry also has an ongoing campaign to introduce new flavored tobacco products, which are increasingly appealing to younger people. Many of these flavored tobacco products contain nicotine. They come in many flavors, including menthol, vanilla, orange, apple, chocolate, cherry, coffee, and grape.
These flavored products can be found in convenience stores and grocery stores, and many also can be purchased online. They are often sold in convenient-size packaging that makes them easier to carry around and store.
In addition, flavored tobacco products are often cheaper than non-flavored products, which can help reduce the cost of quitting for many smokers. In turn, this can help them to stay cigarette-free longer.
However, flavored tobacco products can still be addictive and cause health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and lung disease. They can also be harmful to children and teenagers.
As a result, many states and localities have banned the sale of flavored tobacco products. Some of these laws are specific to menthol, but some also restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products.
Tobacco companies are attracting women
Tobacco companies have long targeted women in high-income countries with advertising and marketing strategies centered on themes of beauty, sophistication, weight loss, fashion, and freedom. They have also used marketing tactics like discount coupons, branded clothing promotions, and free samples to reach women and increase cigarette sales.
In the United States, for example, tobacco companies have been marketing to women for a century using strategies that focus on the female body, promoting “female brands,” and promising low prices. These methods are effective in attracting new women smokers, especially lower-income women.
These marketing strategies have worked in some parts of the world but are not as effective as they could be in others, mainly because of the social stigma against smoking among women. The same strategies are now being used to target young people and girls in low- and middle-income countries.
For example, in countries where smoking is banned, companies often sponsor events or activities that young people enjoy, such as movies and music concerts. The companies have also partnered with celebrities to endorse their products.
These strategies are aimed at convincing women that smoking is harmless and healthy. The industry has adapted these strategies to e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn technologies that use flavored liquids to produce a nicotine-laced vapor. It is a significant challenge for policymakers who must enforce tobacco control measures that restrict marketing and promote health.
Tobacco companies are attracting minorities
The tobacco industry has always been aware that menthol cigarettes were more prevalent among young people, women, and Black Americans than other types of cigarettes. The company has used various tactics to market menthol cigarettes, including targeting African Americans with advertising campaigns, putting more ads in Black communities, and using music, culture, and entertainment events as part of its marketing strategy.
However, the tobacco industry has not been as aggressive in promoting other flavored products, such as hookahs and e-cigarettes. Researchers have found that flavored product use is higher in youth than older adults, with a high rate of menthol and fruit-flavored hookah use among young adults and more frequent use of menthol and fruit e-cigarettes by teens.
It is especially true of e-cigarettes, a significant focus of public health and tobacco control efforts in recent years. Although e-cigarettes are less harmful than other forms of tobacco, many youth and young adults still use e-cigarettes and are more likely to try them if they are flavored.
Tobacco companies also attempt to appeal to minorities by promoting low-harm cigarette products, such as “low tar” or “filtered” cigarettes. But the CDC has reported that these products do not reduce the risk of death from smoking and do not offer any additional benefits to smokers over traditional tobacco products.