The tobacco market has diversified in recent years, offering increasingly innovative flavours to consumers.Whether this means menthol cigarettes, or vaping e-liquids with flavours as funky as cotton candy and nachos, everything is permitted. But while these flavours have increased the options for vapers and smokers alike, not everybody is happy about the innovations.
Alerted by the recent craze, especially amongst young people, authorities in San Francisco have sounded the alarm. Propose E, which intends to ban the sale of flavoured tobacco products, was unanimously supported last year by the city’s politicians.
Although authorities may have voted unanimously to ban flavoured products, consumers do not necessarily agree.To counter this measure, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company reacted by financing a public referendum at the cost of $10 million. The goal is to allow citizens of San Francisco to have a voice in the decision. The final vote will take place on June 5, and will determine the future of flavoured tobacco in the city.
A danger to young people?
Recent developments in flavoured tobacco are disturbing because doctors fear that they will entice young people to start smoking. With sugary, menthol, and sour flavours, teenagers may very well be tempted to try new experiences, whether that means vaping or smoking traditional cigarettes.
Derek Smith, director of the Tobacco Free Project, laments the fact that young people’s first experience smoking tobacco is altered by artificially pleasant flavours. The flavours in menthol cigarettes and e-liquids are far more enticing than traditional cigarettes. The risk, of course, is that they can then open the door to smoking, tobacco addiction, and nicotine dependence.
The current debate in San Francisco is between doctors, defenders of “Yes-on-E” who support proposition E, and the other side.
The latter group, which includes business owners who sell tobacco products, are afraid that they will go bankrupt. However, it is no guarantee that these new measures will deter consumers. On the contrary, the proposition may be the gateway for a burgeoning black market.