Public Health

Flavored Cigarettes Are Gone, but Teenagers Still Smoke. Go Figure.


You may have noticed that you can no longer buy clove cigarettes in the United States. That's because the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which forces tobacco companies to call "light" cigarettes "golds" or "blues" instead, also forbids them to sell cigarettes that have a "characterizing flavor" other than tobacco or menthol. The official aim, as I explained back in 2004, is to protect the youth of America from "candy-flavored cigarettes" that would otherwise lure them into a lifelong tobacco addiction. Which sounds perfectly persuasive to your average "think of the children" knee jerker, except that there is no reason to believe such cigarettes have ever played a significant role in introducing teenagers to smoking. They are not quite as mythical as strawberry-flavored meth; in addition to clove cigarettes (kreteks) from Indonesia, fruit-flavored bidis from India have been sold in the United States, along with short-lived flavored versions of Camel and Kool. But as Michael Siegel has repeatedly pointed out on his tobacco policy blog, flavored cigarettes (with the exception of menthol) have never accounted for more than a negligible part of the underage market.

Siegel notes that politicians and public health officials nevertheless insist that the ban on flavored cigarettes is an important advance in preventing teenagers from smoking. This week Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) cited the elimination of "candy- and fruit-flavored cigarettes, used by the tobacco industry to hook children on tobacco," as a major accomplishment of the tobacco control law, which he introduced in the House. Last fall FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg claimed "flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers." In the same press release, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Howard Koh made an even bolder assertion, implying that the ban will stop all underage smoking:

Flavored cigarettes attract and allure kids into lifetime addiction. FDA's ban on these cigarettes will break that cycle for the more than 3,600 young people who start smoking daily.

Siegel, a longtime anti-smoking activist who thinks exempting menthol from the ban shows Congress was not serious, asks Waxman, Hamburg, and Koh to stop making shit up:

It is demonstrably false that flavored cigarettes are a gateway to cigarette smoking, that they contribute significantly to addiction of youths to tobacco, [and] that the tobacco industry uses these flavored cigarettes to hook children…Prior to the implementation of the law…the overall market share of flavored cigarettes among youth smokers was less than 0.1%….The removal of flavored cigarettes from the market by the FDA will have no impact whatsoever on youth smoking.

I challenge Dr. Hamburg, Dr. Koh, and Representative Waxman to name the actual cigarette brands—the brands of candy-flavored cigarettes—that they allege were the source of youth addiction to cigarette smoking just prior to the implementation of the flavored cigarette ban in September 2009 and which are no longer being smoked by large numbers of youths as a result of that ban….If they are unable to name such brands, then clearly their public assertions were false.

Steve Chapman noted the lie underlying the ban on flavored cigarettes in a column last September. In 2008 I asked whether the menthol exemption made Waxman's bill racist.

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  1. Djarum just rebranded as ‘clove cigars’. You can still buy them. I think they’re now wrapped in a tobacco leaf instead of paper?

    1. They are also a different size and come in different packaging. I don’t think they taste the same either.

      This was the first thing near and dear to my heart to be banned by the government. Sigh.

      1. This is very true. I was so happy when I stumbled upon a pack of Blacks up in Maine that I instantly bought them… only after lighting one did I notice that they were “cigars”, they are slightly thicker, and they don’t have the same taste… very sad. I want my old blacks back. Oh, and I should probably remark that I “don’t smoke” — when they were available, I smoked maybe 3 cigarettes per month, and perhaps 1 cigar (real cigar) and no other tobacco. I guess I’m not addicted…

    2. Sullum would love to find out how to sugar coat the shit he passes off as social critique.

      1. Max|6.24.10 @ 3:29PM|#

        Go suck ron puals dick, morons. You peeple are fucking retarded. I`m done coming to this wingnut sight. this is my last post.

    3. The new Djarum Black and Djarum Special ‘cigars’ (such as they are) taste like hell… Like they were soaked in used embalming fluid or something. I have about 3/4 of a pack of the original, banned Black kreteks left… I’m going to savor every last one of them reverently.

  2. Newports were my first brand….

    1. So? These were mine.

      1. Well, the article points out that excluding menthol makes the bill sort of toothless (as far as its stated intentions go).

        I used to steal those Camel unfiltered from my friend’s pops. Then we’d have chainsmoking contests until we were sick. Good times.

      2. How is this Kemps Elvis ice cream cow any less evil than Joe Camel? I see billboards around town like this and think – But what about the children? Doesn’t Kemps realize that this image is attractive to children and will cause them serious health problems when they get hooked on teh ice cream? of Outdoor

      3. So? These were mine.

        Those are some really good smokes! Tasty and not too harsh for an unfiltered cig.

      4. shit. you the man. those make lungs black in seconds.

  3. I asked whether the menthol exemption made Waxman’s bill racist.

    No, it does not. However, what is it with you people and menthol?

    1. What do you mean, “you people”?

      1. What do you mean, “you people?”

        1. Hey Alpa, Is Booty Sweat still for sale anywhere?

    2. In the South menthol cigarettes are very popular among blacks (both sexes) and (some) white women. Was amused to learn that in Philly (and presumably the rest of the NE) that menthols are the smoke of choice for Guidos.

    3. Menthol is popular with larger sectors of the population and with more established minorities. Fruit and clove cigarettes are practically a niche market for some Asian nationalities, like Indians and Indonesians. It can thus be interpreted as banning an ethnic product.

  4. The first rule for moral crusaders – If the facts don’t support your position, make shit up.

  5. Menthols are sold by the big companies, and they don’t want “flavored” competition. Duh.

    1. Exactly!

  6. Yeah nothing satisfies the sweet tooth like a goddamn flavored cancer stick.

  7. It is demonstrably false that flavored cigarettes are a gateway to cigarette smoking, that they contribute significantly to addiction of youths to tobacco, [and] that the tobacco industry uses these flavored cigarettes to hook children

    Well, let me answer your question this way. I’m an Iraq veteran, and I was in the surge…

    1. So you smoked two packs a day?

      1. And a lot of good men died. So we can’t give up the fight now to save our children.

        1. Is your soul terrifying by chance?

        2. We fight tobacco because that’s what we do.

    2. Well, let me answer your question this way. I’m an Iraq veteran, and I was in the surge…

      Nice! Made me laugh out loud

  8. How many cigarettes do you suppose could be stuffed in Henry Waxman’s nose-orifices? No less than 12, I think.

    1. Nah, at least a full pack, maybe more.

    2. I think it would look something like this.

      1. D’oh!

      2. Haha, the news “file photos” are always hilarious in that show.

        1. Ever get the feeling that Bart is the one submitting them to the TV Station?

        2. Agreed, Rhayader

          1. Awesome. There needs to be a central repository for those things.

  9. Of course this is just a step in their diabolical plan to prevent youth smoking. It’s another step in the eventual goal of outlawing all cigarettes.

    1. Outlawing cigarettes? That’s the only thing keeping state budgets afloat. They don’t want them outlawed, they just want to appear to care.

  10. When I was starting out smoking, everyone I knew who smoked smoked Camels or Marlboros. Maybe a few weirdos smoked Newports. Nobody was smoking any fucking pussy candy flavored cigarettes.

    1. Maybe a few weirdos smoked Newports

      Girls! Most girls I new smoked Newports

      1. Omar smokes Newports. He was buying a pack of them when he got his head blown off.

    2. Some smoked parliaments … and merit.

  11. Eighteen years of “3,600 young people who start smoking daily” is more than half the U.S. population aged 0-18.
    “They hooked me with the Purplesaurus Rex no-filters, but I quit when I was three.”

    1. They might be adding in all the underaged who try it once or twice but never get into the habit. And knowing them, the ones with even one particle per trillion of second hand smoke around them.

  12. As long as I can still buy my cherry flavored Philly’s Blunt…

    1. Don’t worry, I’m sure the drug warriors will get them soon.

      1. They tried to outlaw blunts in certain neighborhoods in Chicago (you can guess the race of most of the people that lived in those neighborhoods.)

        Another shining example of Chicago’s “progressive” politics.

  13. This story is a sad rejoinder to anyone who thinks that marijuana legalization is on the horizon. The Therapeutic State is going in quite the opposite direction.

    On the other hand, yet another opportunity arises for “motivated individuals” interested in the import-export business.

  14. To be fair to Waxman, secondhand smoke is no joke in mole tunnels.

  15. Kids smoke to look more grown up. Adults look like kids when they smoke sissy-flavored cigarrettes. Ergo, the most child-friendly solution is to make all cigarettes are bubble-gum flavored.

  16. nobody but dudes and fools smoke flavored cigarettes

    1. You tell ’em, cowboy.

  17. Kids smoke whatever they can steal from their parents/grandparents. I started on Salem 100’s (bleck) cause that’s what my grandma smoked.

    1. My mom smoked True menthols. That is NOT what I started on.

  18. I am pretty sure that no one got started smoking by smoking cloves or bidis for that matter. You have to already be a smoker to be able to stomach those and even then. I had been a smoker for a couple of years when I started smoking them and I definitely remember a bidi making me sick.

    1. Actually, two of my friends in college got started on cloves and went on to smoke “real” cigarettes… one of them has since quit, the other is up to nearly 2 packs a day.

      1. I should have said I bet no kids started smoking…..
        I bet they were hippies and starting in college doesn’t count as you are technically an adult. What about bidis? I know no one started smoking with those.

        1. I’d think smoking with a biddy would be pretty nasty.

    2. The coolest chicks in high school smoked cloves.

  19. It’s reassuring that the health nannies are still pushing the “gateway” fallacy. For a brief moment after that Iraq-surge-worked wet fart of a comeback I thought they might be losing their keen bullshitting edge.

    1. Also, I should note that my “gateway” to cigarettes were the Popularne brand in communist Poland at the age of eight. Unfiltered and probably not consisting of more than 10% actual tobacco. So suck it, Waxman.

      1. Communist flavored cigarettes–taste the Che!

  20. It’s really sad and pathetic that they banned clove cigarettes. Not that I ever smoked much, but it was clearly not a matter of marketing to children. Cloves were smoked by hipsters in their 20s, not by teens.

    I fail to see the fundamental moral distinction between methol and clove flavoring either. WTF. But it’s really a shame that I’ll never be allowed to smoke another clove cig because of some retarded “For the Children!” bullshit.

  21. It is demonstrably false that flavored cigarettes are a gateway to cigarette smoking, that they contribute significantly to addiction of youths to tobacco, [and] that the tobacco industry uses these flavored cigarettes to hook children…

    Damn you Sullum for making me aware that I agree with an anti-smoking crusader douche-nozzle. Even if it is on a matter of common sense.

  22. A few things

    1) So, when California legalizes marijuana are they going to ban Mango, Blackberry, and all the other fruit flavors for the same reason (I don’t even want to contemplate how hard they’re going to ban AK-47)

    2) Clove cigarettes are disgusting. If you smoke them, and you miss them, I suggest seeking comfort in the arms of your collection of American Girl dolls.

    3) California banned cigarettes that aren’t “fire proof.” I have no fucking clue what this means, other than the fact that now I can’t get my favorite cigarettes, Players Navy Cuts.

    1. Fire-proof cigs are the ones that don’t continue to burn when you pass out in the Lay-Z-Boy after a fifth of gin.

    2. Substitute goth girl for American Girl doll and you might have a deal, Pete

  23. Cigars and pipe tobacco are exempted, but for how long. You can also buy flavored roll your own pipe tobacco that is virtually the same as the old cigarette tobacco brands. You can also buy liquid flavoring to drop onto your cigs. But it doesn’t match up to some of the good Djarum brands like Dreams. Teenagers already couldn’t afford to smoke flavored cigs regularly.

  24. You can also buy flavored roll your own pipe tobacco that is virtually the same as the old cigarette tobacco brands.

    Didn’t the law mentioned above that bans flavored cigarettes also create a 400% tax on cigarette papers. I remember seeing something on Reason a while ago about that.

  25. One way for adult smokers to smoke flavored cigarettes is to switch to the electronic cigarette. Electronic cigarettes produce no smoke – only a water-based vapor that does not leave bad smells in clothes or hair. They come in a variety of flavors. They cannot cause a fire when using them as nothing burns so they are safer. They leave no tar in the lungs. My mother has not touched a regular cigarette since trying her electronic cigarette

    She reports no urge to smoke even when with friends that are smoking. She also claims to be able to breathe easier and have more stamina. The upfront cost to buy the kit is soon recouped because the cartridges/refills are about 1/2 the cost of regular cigarettes.

    1. This qaz668 dumps his BS ads are all over every message board on the internet. He misuses message boards to post ads. Cheap PR.

  26. I’m sorry, but I am a mother and a smoker. I do not smoke around my son, but I do smoke menthol cigarettes. I do not believe it is the governments right to restrict what kind of tobacco I wish to smoke. It is our jobs as parents to make sure our kids are not smoking. You cannot blame the death of anyone on a cigarette or a tobacco company. I have lost 2 close family members to me from cancer, and they both smoked at one time or another. They knew the risks and they continued to do what they did. get over yourselves if you think the FDA should take more of our rights away and stop being neglectful parents!

  27. Well Thanks to this ban i am back to smoking 2 packs of marbs a day. just before the ban i has started substituting my marbs gradually with djarum clove cigarettes… by doing so and cutting out the nicotine… i went from 2 packs a day to smokeing no more than 8 cig a day puffing on a clove when i had a crave for more. so that ended up being like 4 marbs and 2 cloves in a day usually less… now that they are gone and i oly have tobbaco cigarettes to feed my cravings… i’m back to 1 1/2 packs a day almost 2 again. THANKS CONGRESS FOR KILLING ME! patches & gum do not feed the need to puff.

  28. It is necessary not only forbid deliveries of the flavoured cigarettes, but also to spend social education of children at schools telling that will be at smoking with their organism, it is possible even to exaggerate, from this harm will not be. And though the flavoured cigarettes will forbid, the tobacco companies all the same will not be in a minus, they will simply raise the price for light cigarettes and for all the others

  29. Henry Waxman is a beady eyed rat. I bet he has a steady supply of cherry cigarettes in his coat pocket, the bastard. It’s already illegal for kids to smoke cigarettes, so WTF? Soon enough, I guess smokers will have to grow their own tobacco. lol.

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    Great product, incredible shipping. The price is just right, too. I’ve missed these so much, and I am so glad I can get them again. I love it.

  31. Menthol cigarettes are realy popular with larger sectors of the population and with more established minorities. Fruit and clove cigarettes are practically a niche market for some Asian nationalities, like Indians and Indonesians. It can thus be interpreted as banning an ethnic product.

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