Menthol cigarettes and other tobacco products are displayed at a store in San Francisco on May 17, 2018. The U.S. government is set to release its long-awaited plan to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. On Thursday, April 28, 2022, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf previewed the announcement in congressional testimony, saying the proposal would reduce disease and death among smokers and help many quit. Credit: Jeff Chiu / AP

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The popularity of flavored tobacco is a pediatric public health crisis in the United States. In this country, e-cigarettes have rapidly become the most commonly used tobacco product by middle and high school students.

Flavored tobacco e-cigarettes attract young adults and influence the initiation and establishment of lifelong tobacco use. Fixing this requires policy initiatives aimed at protecting our children from a life of nicotine addiction and chronic disease.  

Adolescence is a vulnerable time in human development and marks a period where the brain is most susceptible to nicotine addiction. Almost 90 percent of U.S. adult smokers, start before the age of 18. Internal tobacco industry documents reveal that manufacturers have historically added flavoring ingredients intentionally to attract young customers. Why? Because flavorings in tobacco products camouflage the harshness and irritation of smoking, making these products easier to use and more desirable to young people. It seems that the tobacco industry understands that as nicotine tolerance develops, individuals will switch from low-dose e-cigarettes to daily cigarette smoking.  

June 1 marked an important milestone in Maine: the ban of flavored tobacco products in Portland and Brunswick. Now is the time for Bangor to join these cities and enact Chapter 119, an ordinance that I believe will end the tobacco industry’s long history of profiting from the exploitation of our children.

Jill Vaughn

Assistant Professor

College of Health and Pharmacy, School of Nursing

Husson University