New Report Indicates Growing Candy-Flavored E-Cigarette Market Puts New Generation of Kids at Risk of Health Hazards from Smoking

March 20, 2017

On March 15, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, and American Lung Association issued a new report titled “The Flavor Trap: How Tobacco Companies Are Luring Kids with Candy-Flavored E-Cigarettes and Cigars.”

The report shows that fewer kids are smoking traditional cigarettes and instead opting for sweet-flavored tobacco products like electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and cigars that are marketed directly at their generation with flavors like gummy bear, cotton candy, peanut butter cup, cookies ‘n cream and pop rocks.

Youth use of e-cigarettes soared from 2011 to 2015, surpassing use of regular cigarettes with e-cigarettes now sold in over 7,700 flavors that are putting kids at risk of nicotine addiction and other health harms.

In August 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implemented a new rule extending its jurisdiction to e-cigarettes, cigars and other previously unregulated tobacco products. However, two bills currently before Congress would greatly weaken the FDA’s authority.

One bill (H.R.1136) would limit FDA oversight of e-cigarettes and cigars already on the market, including many of the flavored products introduced in recent years. Further, it would exempt these products from a critical scientific review to determine their impact on public health, including their appeal to kids.

While a second bill, (S.294/H.R.564) would exempt traditional large and premium cigars from review. The bill defines such cigars so broadly that it could also exempt some cheap, machine-made, flavored cigars that are widely used by kids.

The report calls on the FDA to prohibit all flavored tobacco products and urges Congress to reject the current legislation that would weaken the FDA’s authority, especially over e-cigarettes and cigars. 

Last year, ASCO released a policy brief outlining the FDA’s new regulation of e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems in the Journal of Oncology Practice shortly after the FDA issued the final rule extending its regulatory authority over all tobacco products.