Tobacco and candy flavored with same chemicals, PSU study finds
A Portland State University study released Wednesday reveals that the flavorings in popular candy, Kool-Aid and some tobacco products are much the same.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 12 artificially flavored types of candy and fruit drinks, including LifeSavers, Jolly Ranchers and Kool-Aid, and 15 common tobacco products, including cigarette-like cigars, cigarillos and cigars, all containing flavorings. What the PSU team discovered was that the same chemicals popped up in both sets of products.
"These tobacco products are flavored in the same way as candy and Kool-Aid," said James Pankow, chemistry professor at PSU. "It's no coincidence."
He added: "People can decide for themselves whether it is a good thing or not."
The study, led by Pankow, included a master's civil and environmental engineering student, Jessica Brown, and two PSU staff members, Wentai Luo and the late Lorne Isabelle, who died in January.
Pankow said they decided to delve in the comparisons following concerns that "cherry," "grape", "apple" and "peach" tobacco products, for example, constituted candy-flavored tobacco. He wanted to see if there were chemical similarities.
Health officials have accused the tobacco industry of using artificial flavorings to lure young people to smoking. The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act banned the use of "characterizing flavors" in cigarettes but it does not prevent flavorings in little cigars, cigarillos, loose pipe tobacco, moist snuff and tobacco rolling papers.
Brian Druker, director of the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, said the study represents a key step in revealing what might be driving young people to smoke.
"Understanding the interplay between sweet flavoring and tobacco use will better equip us to protect the health of our children and reinforce lifestyle choices that aid in cancer prevention, Druker said in a statement.