Flavored tobacco products have long played an important role in youth starting to use tobacco products and in the case of menthol keeping people, particularly Black Americans, addicted. According to CDC’s 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, over 85% of high school students and close to 80% of middle school students who use e-cigarettes use a flavored product.1 And the latest data available from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that close to 70% of youth tobacco users used a flavored product.2
Menthol cigarettes play a key role in addicting youth smokers and keeping people hooked. About half of youth smokers ages 12-17 smoke menthol cigarettes. Black Americans are disproportionately impacted with over 80% of Black persons who smoke using menthol cigarettes.3 Menthol cigarette use is also elevated among LGBTQ+ Americans, pregnant women and persons with lower incomes. A recent study showed that while overall cigarette use declined by 26% over the past decade, 91% of that decline was due to non-menthol cigarettes.4
Given the key role that flavors play in getting and keeping people addicted to tobacco products, and the slow pace of action by the federal government on the topic, a new grade was added to “State of Tobacco Control 2021” evaluating states on whether they have prohibited the sale of all flavored tobacco products. This grade replaced the Minimum Age grade from “State of Tobacco Control” 2020 and earlier years. Grades are based on the strength of a state’s restrictions on flavored tobacco products with exemptions for certain products or in certain locations decreasing the grade.
Wang TW, Neff LJ, Park-Lee E, Ren C, Cullen KA, King BA. E-cigarette Use Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1310–1312.
Wang TW, Gentzke AS, Creamer MR, et al. Tobacco Product Use and Associated Factors Among Middle and High School Students —United States, 2019. MMWR Surveill Summ 2019;68(No. SS-12):1–22.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's public online data analysis system (PDAS). National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2017.
Delnevo CD, Ganz O, Goodwin RD, Banning Menthol Cigarettes: A Social Justice Issue Long Overdue. Nicotine Tob Res, 2020 Oct 8;22(10):1673-1675. https://doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntaa152
Page last updated: January 26, 2022