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Flavored Tobacco Restriction Policy Linked to Reduced Youth Use of Tobacco Products Interview with:
Melody Kingsley, MPH
Epidemiologist, Massachusetts Department of Public Health What is the background for this study?

Response: The majority of youth who use tobacco use flavored products, which are available in thousands of distinct flavors with youth appeal.[i] In response, communities in states across the country, including Massachusetts, have passed flavored tobacco restriction policies which restrict sales of flavored tobacco; the Food and Drug Administration has proposed increased restrictions on the sale of flavored tobacco nationwide as well. To date, a few studies have found that flavored tobacco restriction policies reduce sales and availability of flavored tobacco, but to our knowledge, no prior evidence exists on the short-term impact of FTRPs on youth tobacco use. Timely evaluation of these policies is important to ensure that FTRPs are an effective strategy for curbing youth tobacco use. What are the main findings?

Response: Our study found that the implementation of a flavored tobacco restriction policy in one Massachusetts community was associated with reduced youth use of both flavored and non-flavored tobacco products just six months after implementation.

Also, we found that reductions in youth tobacco use were not seen in a similar community without the policy. These results suggest that flavored tobacco restriction policies begin to have an impact on youth tobacco use shortly after policy implementation, not only in the long-term. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The results from our study suggest that tobacco control policies which directly impact the retail environment and decrease availability of, and youth exposure to, flavored tobacco products are an effective strategy to curbing youth tobacco use. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research should assess the long-term impact of flavored tobacco restriction policies on youth tobacco use. With a longer follow-up time, we expect that the policy may also begin to impact and reduce other tobacco-related outcomes, such as initiation on flavored tobacco, as exposure to flavored tobacco among younger students continues to decline.

In addition, to counter tobacco industry targeting of menthol-flavored tobacco to communities of color, LGBTQ communities, low-income communities, as well as youth overall, municipalities have started to include menthol flavoring in flavored tobacco restriction policies. Future research should also assess the impact of flavored tobacco restrictions which include menthol on youth tobacco use. We expect that flavored tobacco restrictions which include menthol will have an even greater impact on youth tobacco use than seen in the present study. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: While our study only assessed the impact of the flavored tobacco restriction in one community, our study contained large sample sizes (almost 100% of tobacco retailers and close to 600 students were surveyed in Lowell) and used a rigorous study design.  Future research should continue to evaluate the impact of similar policies on youth tobacco use and tobacco-related behaviors, especially in the long-term. 


Short-Term Impact of a Flavored Tobacco Restriction: Changes in Youth Tobacco Use in a Massachusetts CommunityKingsley, Melody et al.

American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 0, Issue 0 

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Last Updated on October 24, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD