By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

Photo of Young woman smoking an e-cigarette

Seven in 10 middle school and high school students — or 3.26 million — who used tobacco in the previous month used a flavored variety, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration.

“Flavored tobacco products are enticing a new generation of America’s youth into nicotine addiction, condemning many of them to tobacco-related disease and early death,” CDC director Tom Frieden, M.D., said in a CDC news release.

“Nicotine is not safe for the developing brain,” he said, “and we must do everything we can to protect kids from a lifetime of tobacco use and nicotine dependence.”

Among students who were current tobacco users in 2014, 1.58 million had used a flavored e-cigarette, 1.02 million had used flavored hookah tobacco, 910,000 had used a flavored cigar, 690,000 had used flavored smokeless tobacco, 900,000 had used menthol cigarettes, and 120,000 had used flavored tobacco in pipes.

Researchers used data from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

Among regular tobacco users, high school students were more likely than middle school students to use flavored tobacco products, and whites were more likely than blacks to use flavored varieties.

Although the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act banned the use of flavors such as candy, fruit and chocolate in cigarettes, flavors are not prohibited in other tobacco products such as e-cigarettes.

“Given the popularity of flavored tobacco products among youth, it’s critical to address flavorings in all tobacco products,” Brian King, Ph.D., of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in a CDC news release. “Efforts to curb the availability and use of flavored tobacco products could help reduce overall rates of tobacco use among our nation’s youth.”

New York City, Chicago, Providence, Rhode Island, and Santa Clara, California, restrict or limit sales of flavored tobacco products to youths, according to the CDC.

Other strategies to reduce youth tobacco use include increasing the price of tobacco products, adopting comprehensive smoke-free laws, implementing advertising and promotion restrictions, and raising the minimum age of purchase for all tobacco products to 21, the report said.