Close this search box.

Flavored tobacco makes quitting harder, new study finds

Study led by CU Boulder Institute of Behavioral Science researcher finds that flavored tobacco products reduce likelihood of quitting later on

Flavored tobacco use makes it harder to quit smoking later on, according to a study led by Christine Steeger, a research assistant professor at the Institute of Behavioral Science, recently found.

As a senior studying psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder, Christine Steeger (Psych’03) took a job at a large residential treatment center for youth in nearby Westminster. During overnight shifts she found herself poring over client case files.

“While the kids were sleeping, I was reading through a lot of their history, becoming more interested in why they have these problems, and how we can prevent them,” says Steeger, who is now a research assistant professor at the Institute of Behavioral Science.

After conducting behavioral and mental health research with youth and their families for several years, she earned a PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Notre Dame in 2013 and did postdoctoral work at Yale University. She was a research scientist at the University of Washington before returning to CU Boulder in 2017. Throughout her career, Steeger has retained her interest in substance-use prevention and prevention of other problem behaviors for youth. 

Image of Christine Steeger, the researcher who led a study showing flavored tobacco makes it harder to quit
Christine Steeger‘s research interests and expertise are in prevention science, developmental psychopathology, etiology of problem behaviors, tobacco and cannabis research, and individual-, family- and school-based interventions. 

“The vaping and opioid epidemics are significant public-health issues affecting youth and adults. Given the widespread impact, society is paying more attention to these problems and how to treat and prevent them.”

Christine Steeger

Lifelong implications of flavored tobacco use

Although adults were the subjects of the recent paper, “Longitudinal associations between flavored tobacco use and tobacco product cessation in a national sample of adults,” published in July 2022 in Preventive Medicine, the study also has significant implications for youth, says Steeger, who served as the study’s lead author. 

Flavored tobacco products are “designed to appeal to kids as well as adults. Big tobacco knows how to market to kids and catch their eyes,” she says.

For the study, Steeger and her co-authors, including Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Karl G. Hill at IBS and colleagues from Yale and the University of Southern California, analyzed data from the ongoing Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study of thousands of subjects from 2013 through 2018 to determine whether use of flavored tobacco affected later cessation of tobacco use… 

Read the original story at Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine.