How Candy E-Cigarette Makers Make Their Products Smell Like Candy

New research finds that the same flavor chemicals are present in candy and candy-flavored tobacco products.

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22: In this photo illustration, flavored cigars are displayed on October 22, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Although the sale of tobacco to anyone under 18 is illegal, fruit and candy flavored cigars are becoming popular among teens according to a government study.
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Clara Ritger
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Clara Ritger
May 7, 2014, 1:04 p.m.

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.

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