FDA: Flavors for Candy, Not Cigarettes

By Neetal Parekh on September 22, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Mint, vanilla, cinnamon, orange, lime... these may sound like stand-up selections for gum, candy, or cereal but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is putting its foot down to using the flavors in tobacco cigarettes.  The FDA has banned the flavor use in cigarettes as part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, effective September 22, 2009.

The efforts are part of a multi-pronged initiative to steer children and youth away from cigarettes.  FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg pointed to the statistic that 90% of adult smokers started as teenagers as support for the national ban.  And considering the stigma that is attached with cigarette-smoking, it is no wonder that the tobacco industry is trying to re-brand itself in new flavors for the changing consumer.

And while re-branding can be great for most companies, the public policy concern with making tobacco more appealing is very real.  Especially considering that FDA found that 17-year-old smokers are three times more likely to smoke a flavored cigarette than smokers older than 25.  Add to that flavors, colors, and repackaging and you may wonder whether you are reaching for a pack of gum or a pack of smokes.  And the risk becomes all the greater when the person rolling through the checkout is a teenager, reaching for the same pack.

The House of Representatives voted in April 2009 to grant FDA the authority to regulate production, sale, and marketing of tobacco products such as cigarettes.   No matter what it tastes like, the negative health effects of smoking are grim.  Nearly 500,000 Americans die from tobacco-related causes each year.  Smoking is responsible for 87% of all lung cancer deaths.

Though cigarettes may still not be tobacco-free, the FDA is on the case to make sure they remain flavor-free.


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