Kids have a whole world of discoveries ahead of them. Their minds are open, ready to learn and receive. That leaves them especially vulnerable to deceptive messaging and alluring sales pitches. Big Tobacco is cashing in.
“It’s a well known fact that teenagers like sweet products.”
— Tobacco Company Internal Memo
Research shows that candy-colored packaging and fruit-flavored tobacco products attract youth — research that’s paying off for Big Tobacco. Many young people have been led to believe that flavored tobacco products are not only delicious, but also less dangerous and addictive than non-flavored tobacco. Over a third of Oklahoma high school students have tried flavored cigars. Teens who try these flavored tobacco products are nearly 3 times more likely to smoke than those who don’t.
Using these flavored tobacco products has turned many children and young adults into lifetime smokers. Almost 90% of adult smokers started using tobacco when they were teenagers.
There’s nothing cool about increasing youth smoking — but that’s exactly what menthol cigarettes are doing. Since 2002, menthol cigarette use has doubled among Oklahoma teens. In fact, 50% of all Oklahoma teen smokers use menthol cigarettes. None of this is by accident. Big Tobacco has a well-documented history of marketing menthol products to young people.