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Institute for Global Tobacco Control

IGTC Report Provides Evidence for Tobacco Flavor Restrictions

February 2020

State of the Evidence ReportA comprehensive restriction on flavored tobacco products may prevent youth from using tobacco products, according to a group of researchers from the Institute for Global Tobacco Control (IGTC) at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

As the Maryland General Assembly considers whether to restrict flavors in tobacco products, Jeffrey Hardesty, Research Associate at IGTC and lead author of the report, says legislators can learn from other similar efforts across the country, which are highlighted in the report.

"This report provides Maryland's leaders with evidenced-based policy recommendations for maximizing public health benefits and minimizing unintended consequences," Hardesty says. "Hard lessons learned from previous efforts in New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, among others, have paved the way for improved future legislation."

Around 25 percent of middle and high school students, both nationally and in Maryland, report using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. Research shows that kid-appealing flavors have helped drive e-cigarette use among youth and young adults. Polling shows that a majority of Americans support restricting flavors in tobacco products.

The report details the public health impact, what restrictions could mean for businesses, and the importance of tracking compliance after legislation passes. "Partial bans have loopholes that the tobacco industry exploits, resulting in negative public health consequences," says IGTC Director Joanna E. Cohen. "A comprehensive flavor ban without product, flavor, and retailer exemptions can reduce tobacco use and save lives."