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Study: Flavored tobacco products are a gateway to regular use

Menthol 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. 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