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Tobacco industry counters policy changes with new products

Oct 31, 2018

The tobacco industry is continually adapting and developing new products to attract new users even as more evidence-based tobacco policy changes have taken effect across the nation.

Two of our colleagues learned this and more during two days of tobacco education events earlier this month in Oklahoma City. Much of the industry’s adaptation has to do with electronic vapor products or e-cigarettes, including developing new products to attract youth and new users.

Young users are much more likely than older adults to use flavored e-cigarettes. Brian King of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health shared that 85 percent of e-cigarette users ages 12 to 17 use flavors. That compares with only 10 to 15 percent of adult e-cigarette users. In areas with local laws that prohibit flavored products, companies have launched concept flavor products with names that do not explicitly mention their flavoring to attempt to circumvent the restrictions. Often youth don’t realize that most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development.  

What’s more, though e-cigarettes may be perceived as being less dangerous than traditional cigarettes, they can be just as addictive. JUUL brand e-cigarettes, which always contain nicotine, use nicotine salts allowing for higher levels of nicotine to be inhaled more easily with less harshness, King said. 

Traditional cigarette makers are also developing e-cigarette products. Philip Morris bills its iQOS product, currently available outside the United States, as “heated” rather than burned and “smoke-free,” though it still contains tobacco and nicotine. The company is seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration to sell iQOS in the United States.

“Supporting evidence-based tobacco policy changes is essential to protecting all people from the harms of tobacco,” Interact Program Officer Megan Folkerth said. “With the changing landscape of tobacco products, we need to ensure the inclusion of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in these policy efforts.”

To learn more about Interact for Health’s efforts to reduce tobacco use, please visit https://www.interactforhealth.org/reducing-tobacco-use/.

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