ENSP has launched a Series of Fact Sheets covering a range of tobacco control topics. The first 2 editions are dedicated to Characterising Flavours in Tobacco Products and Heated Tobacco Products.
Research has shown that flavours play an important role in drawing in new users of tobacco products and sustaining long-term use. Flavours are particularly appealing to youth and young adults, especially fruit and candy flavour. Historically, the tobacco industry has added flavourings to maximise its attractiveness to young people, using advertisement strategies to directly target this population. Additionally, research indicates that by lessening the harshness of cigarette smoking, such as cooling effects of menthol or sweetness of other flavours, flavoured tobacco products can reduce harm perceptions of these products.
Data from the EUREST-PLUS ITC Europe Surveys, which aims to evaluate the EU TPD, shows that in 2016, on average, menthol and other flavoured cigarette smokers from six EU Member States were more likely to be younger (ages 18-24), as compared to older age groups6. Furthermore, in 2018, 13% of adult smokers from six EU MS believe that menthol cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes.
Heated tobacco products (alternatively called heat-not-burn or hybrid tobacco products) are specific tobacco products specifically produced to be heated at temperatures below combustion levels, causing nicotine and other compounds to aerosolise (“cold smoke”). Heated tobacco products are a hybrid between electronic and conventional cigarettes: they are equipped with a battery-powered device that heats while the product used inside is not a liquid containing nicotine, but “real cut tobacco” (e.g. disposable tobacco sticks).
With this current scientific evidence, national and international organisations including the European Respiratory Society or the French Alliance Against Tobacco have demonstrated that heated tobacco products are shown to: 1) be harmful and addictive; 2) undermine smokers’ wish to quit; 3) undermine ex-smokers’ wish to stay smoke-free; 4) be a temptation for non-smokers, in particular adolescents and young people; 5) pose a risk of re-normalisation of smoking; 6) pose a risk of dual use with conventional cigarettes.
Read more about the public health implication of flavours, about the use of flavoured cigarettes in the EU, or about the novel heated tobacco products and their contribution to global tobacco epidemic:
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