In early 2017, IGTC partnered with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to monitor the availability of and marketing tactics being used to sell flavored cigarettes (including menthol-flavored, other flavored, and flavor capsule cigarettes) at point-of-sale in five Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile and Peru. A sample of primary and secondary schools was selected (ranging from 50 - 107 schools) in one city in each country and all select types of retailers within a 100 - 250 meter radius were observed. Sampling was based on the Big Tobacco, Tiny Targets (BTTT) field protocol carried out in 2016 and in countries where data was collected for the BTTT project (Argentina, Bolivia, Peru), the same sample of retailers were observed. At each retailer, observational data on cigarette availability, advertising, and promotion were collected. Additionally, the cheapest tobacco flavored, menthol flavored, and other flavored cigarette packages were purchased at one retailer in each school sampling area.
Cigarettes flavored to taste like sweets such as fruits, candy and desserts are popular among youth smokers.1 Flavored cigarettes mask the taste of tobacco. A review of industry documents showed that tobacco companies designed flavored tobacco products to appeal to young smokers.2 Younger smokers have also been targeted with flavored tobacco advertisements.1
In many countries, menthol-flavored cigarettes have been treated differently from other flavored cigarettes; for example, in the United States and Canada, initial bans on flavored cigarettes excluded menthol.3 The availability of menthol cigarettes is associated with increased initiation of tobacco use, and menthol smokers are less likely to quit smoking and more likely to relapse than non-menthol smokers.4 In several countries, menthol smokers are more likely to be youth, women, and racial and ethnic minorities.4
Flavor capsule cigarettes are a recent innovation used to sell cigarettes and are now available in most markets, with the highest market share in Latin American countries such as Chile, Peru, Guatemala, Argentina and Mexico.5 Flavor capsules are inserted in the filter of the cigarette and can be crushed to release a liquid that flavors the cigarette smoke. The most commonly seen capsule flavor is menthol. Flavor capsule cigarettes may appeal to youth and be associated with misperceptions of relative harm.6,7,8
Monitoring results can be accessed at http://globaltobaccocontrol.org/resources/technical-report-flavored-cigarettes-point-sale-latin-america. For more on advocacy efforts, visit https://www.saborquemata.org/.
This work was supported with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use (www.bloomberg.org).