Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Big Tobacco’s Innovative Smokescreen

By Janet Hoak and Philip Gendall

While tobacco companies claim to be cooperating with health authorities to reduce smoking, new tobacco products are squarely aimed at recruiting new smokers.

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The major tobacco companies have presented a vision of a smoke-free world in which the prevalence of smoking has fallen to minimal levels. This goal has much in common with national tobacco end-game ambitions, and appears to create opportunities for health researchers and smoke-free advocates to work together with a well resourced industry to achieve a common objective. Yet, despite their public statements, tobacco companies continue to develop new products, such as flavour capsule cigarettes that enhance smoking’s appeal.

Flavour capsule cigarettes are a relatively recent product innovation that allow smokers to customise their smoking experience by crushing flavour capsules in cigarette filters, thus flavouring the smoke inhaled with fruit or menthol. Promoted as intriguing and fresh, capsule cigarettes combine the promise of greater pleasure while implying reduced harm.

Flavours appeal strongly to young people, many of whom find their early experience of smoking unpalatable. Since their introduction in the early 2000s, capsule cigarette sales have grown rapidly, even in markets where overall tobacco consumption is declining, such as New Zealand and Australia.

Tobacco companies often argue that their marketing strategies aim to shift market share rather than recruit new users, yet analyses of industry documents show that flavours play a key role...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.