A new study out of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center shows that health warnings on cigarillos and little cigar packaging does little to curtail the appeal of bright colors and flavor descriptors.

While the FDA banned flavors other than menthol in cigarettes in 2009, cigarillos feature flavors such as sweet, grape, wine and tropical.

Social and Clinical Research Specialist in the UNC School of Medicine Clare Meernik said that it could be these flavors and the descriptions of them on the packaging that is attracting young people to buy them.

“Flavors are a big draw for young people,” said Meernik. “It’s one of the big reasons they experiment with these products and initiate and get hooked on them.”

One of the catalysts for this study is the fact that while use of cigarettes has been steadily declining, alternative tobacco products such as cigarillos are experiencing higher sales, especially among the youth.

Meernik said it is the bright color and flavor descriptors on the packaging of these products that could be causing this, despite health warnings.

“Even when the warning was on the packs, it didn’t dampen the appealing effect of the flavor descriptor and the color,” said Meernik.

According to Meernik, the next move would be submit grants to try and push the FDA to regulate these alternative tobacco products as strictly as they do cigarettes.

“The FDA does have regulatory authority over all tobacco products,” said Meernik. “They have the authority to prohibit flavors in these products; they have the authority to regulate packaging and restrict certain packaging elements such as colors, such as flavor descriptors.”