NYC has a local law that restricts the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products (also known as e-cigarettes). However, menthol tobacco products are still available because they are not covered under this law.
Flavors are a key way companies hooked young people on cigarettes in the past and are hooking young people on other tobacco products and e-cigarettes now. Companies aggressively market these products in thousands of varieties and flavors, including many designed to look and taste like candy — which appeal to youth. Almost all of these products contain nicotine, which is addictive, especially for teens.
Menthol is a minty-flavored substance that masks the harshness of tobacco. Menthol cigarettes are just as harmful as non-menthol cigarettes, but the menthol additive makes the smoke less harsh and easier for teens to tolerate. In NYC, more than half of middle and high school students who smoke usually smoke menthol cigarettes.
Although e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they typically contain nicotine, which is addictive. They also contain flavorings, and other chemicals. Flavors in e-cigarettes have been identified as one of the top reasons for e-cigarette use among youth. Over 80% of U.S. youth who had ever tried an e-cigarette reported their first product was flavored. Starting in summer 2020, flavored e-cigarettes will no longer be legally permitted to be sold in NYC.
To learn more about the way menthol and other flavors have affected your community and how to take action:
As a community-based organization, you can use the Defeat Flavors and End Nicotine Dependence (DEFEND) toolkit to help prevent another generation of New Yorkers from becoming hooked on nicotine. This toolkit contains resources and strategies to help your community raise awareness and resist the dangers of flavored tobacco, such as menthol cigarettes, and vaping products, including materials for youth and young adults.