Widespread use of flavored e-cigarettes and hookah tobacco in the United States

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In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of flavored cigarettes (excluding menthol) in the U.S. However, the sale of flavored e-cigarettes (FE) and flavored hookah tobacco (FHT) is still legal. In this study (conducted in the US in the period from October 2018 to February 2019), we estimated the prevalence of use of FE and FHT across users’ sociodemographic characteristics (e.g., age, sex, race/ethnicity) and identified the key characteristics of tobacco users associated with use of FE and FHT. We analyzed the 2014–2015 Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey data for current e-cigarette (n = 3691) and hookah tobacco (n = 658) users. Among e-cigarette users, 65.5% used FE; and among hookah tobacco users, 87.3% used FHT. Among e-cigarette users, the prevalence of use of FE was significantly higher for 18–24 year-old than 45+ year-old adults; women than men; Southern than Northeastern residents; and never smokers of regular cigarettes than current smokers of regular cigarettes (all adjusted p's < 0.05). Among hookah tobacco users, the rates of FHT use were significantly higher for women than men, and never smokers of regular cigarettes than current smokers (all adjusted p's < 0.05). Because availability and accessibility of flavored tobacco products may promote tobacco use, revising regulatory guidelines concerning manufacturing and distribution of FE and FHT may help reduce the popularity of emerging tobacco products. Implications: Among users of emerging tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and hookah tobacco, use of flavored products is very common. Among e-cigarette users, 66% consumed flavored e-cigarettes; and among users of hookah tobacco, 87% consumed flavored hookah tobacco. Use of flavored products was especially common among users who were young adults, women, or never and former smokers of regular cigarettes. Availability of emerging tobacco products in many different flavors could be a reason for tobacco use initiation and continued use of tobacco after cessation of regular-cigarette smoking.




Owens, V. L., Ha, T., & Soulakova, J. N. (2019). Widespread use of flavored e-cigarettes and hookah tobacco in the United States. Preventive Medicine Reports, 14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2019.100854

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