Despite assurances from cigarette makers that they no longer target the youth market, Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that new brands are being marketed to young smokers and racial/ethnic groups using colorful and stylish packaging and exploiting adolescents’ attraction to candy flavors. The study appears in the November/December 2005 issue of the journal, Health Affairs. The researchers sifted through a database of more than 7 million internal tobacco industry documents spanning more than 30 years for information on alternative flavors and flavor technology used in the development of products targeting new and younger smokers. Carrie Carpenter, lead author of the study and a research analyst at HSPH, stated, “Flavored cigarettes can promote youth smoking initiation and help young occasional smokers to become daily smokers by reducing or masking the natural harshness and taste of tobacco smoke and increasing the acceptability of a toxic product.” A 1993 internal document stated, “Growing interest in new flavor sensations (i.e. soft drinks, snack foods) among younger adult consumers may indicate new opportunities for enhanced- flavor tobacco products that could leverage [a brand’s] current strength among younger adult smokers.” Internal research by the tobacco industry showed manufacturers that they could capitalize on youths’ attraction to candy flavors. They used innovative product technology, such as a flavor pellet embedded in one company’s cigarette filters, to deliver fruit and liqueur flavors. Some of the flavored cigarettes the companies have developed include; Mandarin Mint, Mocha Taboo, Mintrigue, Kauai Kolada, Margarita Mixer and others. Fruit and candy flavors were also added to smokeless tobacco products, cigars and cigarette rolling papers.
The study; “New Cigarette Brands with Flavors That Appeal to Youth: Tobacco Marketing Strategies; Health Affairs, November/ December 2005, Volume 24, number 6,” was funded by the American Legacy Foundation and the National Cancer Institute.