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Qualitative Study on Age and Sex Differences in the Experience of Using Flavored Tobacco
J Korean Soc Res Nicotine Tob 2023; 14(4): 142-153
Published online December 30, 2023
© 2023 The Korean Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.

Kwanwook Kim1, Heejin Kimm2*

1Department of Cultural Anthropology, College of Integrated Global Studies, Duksung Women’s University, Seoul, 2Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, Institute for Health Promotion, Graduate School of Public Health, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea
Correspondence to: *김희진
연세대학교 보건대학원
역학건강증진학과 국민건강증진연구소
E-mail: heejink@yuhs.ac
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4526-0570
Received December 12, 2023; Revised December 19, 2023; Accepted December 21, 2023.
This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, dis-tribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
 Abstract
Background: The popularity of flavored tobacco, especially menthol varieties, is increasing. This use is particularly noticeable among teenagers and young adults under 25.
Methods: This study was conducted using focus group interviews with 42 adolescents and adults, both male and female, from Seoul, metropolitan, and nonmetropolitan areas. The survey took place from May to June 2022 and followed a semistructured guideline.
Results: The findings revealed that teenagers often use strong-tasting and aromatic flavored tobacco as “starter cigarettes,” which plays a critical role in both initiating and maintaining smoking habits. Adults under 25 develop “personal tobacco preferences” influenced by taste and aroma. Users of liquid e-cigarettes often adjust for nicotine concentration and hit sensation with flavor. In contrast, adults over 25 tend to prefer flavored tobacco for “stimulation rather than taste.” Men in this age group favor the throat hit of menthol, while women value reduced odor. The study also found that advertising of flavored tobacco significantly influences youth smoking. Participants believed flavored tobacco could be more harmful than regular cigarettes and that its taste and aroma substantially affect their quitting intentions.
Conclusion: Flavored tobacco impacts various age groups differently regarding smoking initiation, continuation, and cessation. There are also sex-based differences in flavored tobacco preferences. Advertising and specific flavors and aromas have a significant impact on youth. There is a need for further research and routine monitoring on the flavored tobacco.
Keywords : Flavored tobacco; Focus group interview; Youth smoking; Adult smoking experience; Beginner-friendly cigarettes; Nicotine dependence; Smoking initiation
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