The same chemicals used to flavor Jolly Ranchers and Kool-Aid are being used in tobacco products, new research finds.
While candy-flavored tobacco products have been on the market for years, the researchers at Portland State University in Oregon are the first to discover that the same chemicals are used to create the characterizing flavors in candy and tobacco products.
"If you take and smell a grape Phillies blunt, you're smelling the same chemical used in grape Kool-Aid," said James Pankow, a professor at Portland State and the lead researcher for the study.
The findings come on the heels of the Food and Drug Administration's newly proposed regulations on e-cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products.
The new regulations would treat those tobacco products like cigarettes, banning their sale to minors, but they do not outlaw candy flavorings.
Candy-flavored cigarettes have been outlawed since 2009, the year the Tobacco Control Act granted the FDA more oversight over the tobacco industry.
"Almost 90 percent of adult smokers start smoking as teenagers. These flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in a 2009 press release about the congressional ban.
Pankow quoted Hamburg in his report, published Wednesday.
"It's not clear to me why the same logic isn't being applied to these products," he said.
The FDA is in the process of reviewing the literature on the impact of candy-flavored tobacco products on use.
Pankow's findings appear in the New England Journal of Medicine.