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Concerns raised about flavor-enhancing chemicals in cigarettes

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – A recent study conducted by researchers at the Institute for Global Tobacco Control (IGTC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Portland State University has raised concerns about the presence of flavor chemicals in cigarettes sold in Vietnam and their potential impact on consumer appeal, particularly among the youth.

The study found that products containing flavor chemicals and flavor delivery technology can make cigarettes more appealing to a wide range of consumers. Manufacturers have the ability to manipulate the level of menthol in cigarettes to cater to various taste preferences, which can lead to more people taking up smoking.

Lauren Czaplicki, a scientist at IGTC and co-author of the study, said, “Flavored tobacco products are a culprit in extending the tobacco epidemic, making cigarettes appealing to consumers—including young people—and more difficult to quit.”

The research revealed that menthol was present in 17 out of 35 sample packs, accounting for 49%. Additionally, 20 packs in the sample (57%) featured flavor “technologies,” such as crushable flavor capsules that allow users to release flavor chemicals at their discretion.

This study, published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, is the first of its kind to analyze the chemical composition of cigarette brand variants available in Vietnam. Notably, flavored tobacco products are not currently restricted in the Vietnamese market, where 24% of the adult population uses combustible tobacco.

Czaplicki emphasized that countries can combat the predatory marketing tactics of the tobacco industry by implementing bans on flavored tobacco products. Research has shown that such bans, including menthol, can reduce tobacco use and encourage quit attempts.

Furthermore, the study suggests that restrictions on imagery, descriptors, and colors on product packaging that may imply flavors could complement a comprehensive ban on tobacco product flavors.

Another study published in Tobacco Control in 2017 found that consumer appeal is influenced by the presence of flavor descriptors, imagery, and colors on product packaging.

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