Achieving the tobacco endgame: the case for removing additives: findings from the ITC New Zealand Survey
Richard Edwards 1  
,  
Andrew Waa 1
,  
James Stanley 2
,  
Susan Kaai 3
,  
Anne C.K.Quah 3
,  
Geoff Fong 3, 4
 
 
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1
University of Otago, Public Health, New Zealand
2
University of Otago, Dean's Department, New Zealand
3
University of Waterloo, Psychology, Canada
4
Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Canada
Publish date: 2018-03-01
 
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A40
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ABSTRACT
Background:
Tobacco products can contain a range of flavourings designed to reduce the harshness of tobacco and enhance its taste. These features can make it easier for new smokers to become addicted or existing smokers to maintain their addiction. A recently released national action plan identified removal of tobacco flavourings such as menthol as an important strategy for achieving New Zealand's (NZ) 2025 endgame goal. The present study explored smoker use of and support for banning tobacco flavourings.

Methods:
Data were drawn from the first wave (Aug 2016-April 2017) of the International Tobacco Control (ITC) New Zealand Survey. Interviews were conducted using computer aided telephone interviewing. The sample comprised 1,023 smokers including 358 who identified as Māori (indigenous peoples of NZ).

Results:
Almost two thirds of participants said taste was part of their decision for smoking their preferred brand. Around a fifth of smokers were using tobacco with any flavour including menthols, with over 10% reporting they smoked menthols, and a further 10% using tobacco with a flavour other than menthol. Females (18%) were much more likely to smoke menthols than males (7%). Males (13%) were more likely than females (6%) to smoke other types of flavoured tobacco. Only 11% of menthol cigarette users thought they were healthier than regular cigarettes. Among all menthol users around half said they would reduce the amount they smoked or quit smoking entirely if menthol flavoured tobacco was banned. Around half of participants supported banning flavours added to tobacco.

Conclusions:
Tobacco flavour is an important factor in determining brand preference. A substantial proportion of NZ smokers smoked flavoured tobacco products. The finding that the removal of flavours like menthol would encourage some smokers to quit or cut down combined with evidence of support among many smokers indicates there is a strong case for removing tobacco flavourings.

eISSN:1617-9625