Oct 23, 2019

Study: Flavored tobacco products are a gateway to regular use

First use of flavored e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah, and smokeless tobacco products can place young adults and adults at risk of regular tobacco use. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Youths and young adults are likely to continue using various tobacco products after trying flavored products like menthol or mint, according to a new study from JAMA Network.

Driving the news: Popular e-cigarette startup Juul announced last week a halt in its flavored vape products, signaling further cooperation with the FDA. Juul banned all flavors except mint, its most popular flavor.

The big picture: The study notes that all flavored tobacco products are at fault of being a gateway to regular use, not just e-cigarettes.

  • First use of flavored e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah and smokeless tobacco products can place young adults and adults at risk of regular tobacco use.
  • There's a significant association between first use of a menthol or mint flavored cigarette and continued cigarette use across all age groups.

Background: Last year, the FDA planned a proposal to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. This year, many city and state legislatures are joining the effort to ban flavored e-cigarettes.

  • Preliminary results from a Centers for Disease Control study showed nearly 28% of high school students reported using an e-cigarette last August, a 7-point bump from 2018.
  • Fruit, menthol and mint flavors were by far the most popular flavors, with more than 60% of teen vapers acknowledging that they had used them, per the CDC.

Noteworthy: The Food and Drug Administration concluded Tuesday that completely switching from traditional cigarettes to eight "General Snus" smokeless tobacco products does lower certain health risks.

  • The public is still divided over whether outlawing flavored e-cigarettes or all e-cigarettes is a good idea, according to data from Kaiser Family Foundation.

Go deeper: Regulatory gaps are exacerbating the youth vaping crisis

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Mint-flavored vapes winning over teens

Data: Cullen, et. al, 2019, "e-Cigarette Use Among Youth in the United States, 2019"; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Juul's mint flavor has become the most popular e-cigarette flavor for teens in 12th and 10th grades and the second most popular in 8th grade, an NIH-funded study published in JAMA shows. A second JAMA study found that mint and menthol's popularity among all e-cigarette brands is also rising.

Why it matters: The Trump administration is expected to move forward this week with a ban on flavored vape products, except for tobacco and menthol flavors, and Juul has already said it will stop selling all flavors except tobacco, mint and menthol.

Go deeperArrowNov 6, 2019

"Significant increase" in teens vaping menthol or mint flavored e-cigarettes

Juul flavors, mango, mint and fruit medley. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Middle school and high school students are vaping mint or menthol flavors almost as much as fruit-flavored e-cigarette products, a new investigation by JAMA shows.

Reality check: The Trump administration is expected to announce this week a finalized ban on almost all flavored vaping products, but it won't include tobacco and menthol flavors.

Go deeperArrowNov 5, 2019

Juul halts sales of mint flavored e-cigarettes

The only flavors Juul will sell are menthol and tobacco flavors. The Food and Drug Administration has ordered e-cigarette product makers to devise a plan to keep their devices away from minors, declaring use by teens has reached an "epidemic proportion". Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Juul, the nation's largest maker of vaping products, announced Thursday it will freeze sales of its popular mint flavor, leaving only menthol and tobacco flavors available, amid looming Trump administration plans to ban all flavors of e-cigarettes, including mint.

Why it matters: Mint accounts for about 70% of Juul’s U.S. sales. Menthol only accounts for about 10%, while tobacco makes up roughly 20%, a person familiar with the matter tells Axios.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 7, 2019