Currently, NYC has a local law that restricts the sale of flavored tobacco products. However, some products, including menthol tobacco products and flavored e-cigarettes, 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. Menthol is a particularly popular e-cigarette flavor among youth. About half of U.S. high school students who use e-cigarettes reported using menthol- or mint-flavored products in 2018.
To learn more about the way menthol and other flavors have affected your community and how to take action: