If you've smelled or smoked a flavored cigar you probably noticed the sweet candy-like aroma and taste. And that's no accident.
U.S. researchers who studied treats such as LifeSavers, Jolly Ranchers and Kool-Aid say that their chemical makeup overlaps with that of flavored tobacco products. And the scientists say it’s not by accident.
On Wednesday a study was published in the The New England Journal of Medicine, where Portland State University researchers suggest that these candy-flavored tobacco products are designed to hide the bitter taste of tobacco while getting young folks hooked.
Researchers wrote: “The same, familiar, chemical-specific flavor sensory cues that are associated with fruit flavors in popular candy and drink products are being exploited in the engineered designs of flavored tobacco products.”
They studied almost a dozen candies and fruit drinks along with 15 popular flavored tobacco products. One example, showed “significant” overlap between the chemicals in cherry Kool-Aid and a “Wild Cherry” cigarette. Other flavors included grape, apple, peach, berry and even bubblegum. Most of the packaging for tobacco products come in bright packaging as well.
Health officials are asking for stronger guidelines on tobacco flavoring and packaging in order to prevent youth from using the products. In October the CDC released a report saying more teens were smoking flavored tobacco.
Tim McAfee, MD, MPH, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health said, “Little cigars contain the same toxic and cancer-causing ingredients found in cigarettes and are not a safe alternative to cigarettes. Many flavored little cigars appear virtually indistinguishable from cigarettes with similar sizes, shapes, filters, and packaging.”