Influence of the Flavored Cigarette Ban on Adolescent Tobacco Use

Introduction: This paper estimated the association between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 2009 ban on flavored cigarettes (which did not apply to menthol cigarettes or tobacco products besides cigarettes) and adolescents’ tobacco use.

Methods: Regression modeling was used to evaluate tobacco use before and after the ban. The analyses controlled for a quadratic time trend, demographic variables, prices of cigarettes and other tobacco products, and teenage unemployment rate. Data from the 1999–2013 National Youth Tobacco Surveys were collected and analyzed in 2016. The sample included 197,834 middle and high schoolers. Outcomes were past 30–day cigarette use; cigarettes smoked in the past 30 days among smokers; rate of menthol cigarette use among smokers; and past 30–day use of cigars, smokeless tobacco, pipes, any tobacco products besides cigarettes, and any tobacco products including cigarettes.

Results: Banning flavored cigarettes was associated with reductions in the probability of being a cigarette smoker (17%, p<0.001) and cigarettes smoked by smokers (58%, p=0.005). However, the ban was positively associated with the use by smokers of menthol cigarettes (45%, p<0.001), cigars (34%, p<0.001), and pipes (55%, p<0.001), implying substitution toward the remaining legal flavored tobacco products. Despite increases in some forms of tobacco, overall there was a 6% (p<0.001) reduction in the probability of using any tobacco.

Conclusions: The results suggest the 2009 flavored cigarette ban did achieve its objective of reducing adolescent tobacco use, but effects were likely diminished by the continued availability of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.

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January 2017

Charles J. Courtemanche
Makayla K. Palmer
Michael F. Pesko