In the US, Young Adults From Minoritized Communities More Likely to Use Flavored Tobacco

Flavored tobacco products, including mint and menthol, present a risk for youth initiation and use, and nicotine use disorder. This study assessed racial/ethnic patterns of flavored tobacco use among young adults from the US Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health survey (N=8114, aged 18–34 years).

  • The use of flavored tobacco products was more common among Black (odds ratio [OR], 1.4) and Hispanic (OR, 1.4) young adults, compared with white/non-Hispanic individuals.
  • Compared with white young adults who smoke, Black individuals who smoke were more likely to use menthol cigarettes (OR, 4.5).

Comments: To avoid regulation, the tobacco industry has long lobbied to hold out “cooling flavors” (i.e., mint and especially menthol) as a separate category with predominantly adult use. A growing body of evidence has shown that these flavors are commonly used by youth, especially youth of color. Exempting menthol from flavor bans contributes to health disparities.

Sharon Levy, MD

Reference: Watkins SL, Pieper F, Chaffee BW, et al. Flavored tobacco product use among young adults by race and ethnicity: evidence from the population assessment of tobacco and health study. J Adolesc Health. 2022;71(2):226–232.

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