SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Korea Bizwire) – Although they are seldom a go-to for longtime smokers, cigarettes that have a flavor capsule in the filter are highly appealing to youth including underage teenagers, who often prefer cigarettes with less of the bitterness of conventional brands.
But such cigarettes can be more dangerous, and at the same time, more addictive.
According to a recent report on flavored cigarettes by the Korea Health Promotion Foundation, menthol – a classic flavor added to cigarettes – paralyzes the terminal nerve, thereby softening the stimulation of inhaling the smoke.
Menthol also blunts the body’s reaction to nicotine, increasing the chances of addiction, and raises the concentration of chemical ingredients in cigarette smoke, thereby increasing the risks of cancer.
KHPF officials added that sugar, another flavor frequently used in cigarettes, produces the carcinogen acetaldehyde as it burns, while theobromine, a chemical compound from cacao plants, can expand the bronchial tubes to allow lungs to absorb a greater amount of nicotine.
These taste-enhancing ingredients are often found in cigarettes with flavor capsules, which can be “popped” to give cigarettes a different taste.
The KHPF found up to 9.8mg of menthol contained in cigarettes with a flavor capsule, compared to 2 to 5mg in average menthol cigarette brands without the pop. This means 1.29mg of menthol is inhaled along with the smoke, which is much higher than the amount from the latter brands (0.4 to 0.8mg).
The greater concern with flavored cigarettes is the fact that they specifically target younger smokers.
A study by researchers in the U.S. revealed that 80.8 percent of teenagers (12 to 17) had their first smoking experience with flavored cigarettes, while the American Food and Drug Administration once labelled them as a “gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers.”
In fact, during the period from 2004 to 2010, in which the smoking rate declined for regular cigarettes in the U.S., the rate for menthol brands either remained stable or even increased in some cases – mainly among those aged from 18 to 25.
The South Korean market for cigarettes with capsules in the filter ranked ninth globally in 2014, with market share and cigarette sales soaring by 6.5 times and 4.9 times between 2012 and 2015, respectively.
The KHPF noted that developed economies, including Australia, the U.S., Canada, and the E.U., have implemented regulations against manufacturing cigarettes with specific flavors like fruit, vanilla, or chocolate, and strongly suggested that South Korea, which currently lacks such supervision, do the same.
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)