New Zealand's goal of becoming smokefree by 2025 could be under threat.
New research from the University of Otago examined young adults' responses to flavour capsule cigarettes, which mask the tobacco taste.
The study surveyed 425 smokers and 390 non-smokers.
Non-smokers were three times more likely to pick a flavoured option, such as fruit burst or pineapple, than the usual unflavoured cigarettes.
Smokers preferred the traditional ones.
Lead researcher professor Janet Hoek said it was important to monitor tobacco companies' marketing strategies.
"Evidence that flavour capsules are more appealing to non-smokers than to smokers suggests policy makers need to be vigilant and ensure product innovations cannot undermine smokefree goals," she said.
Professor Hoek said the findings challenged tobacco companies' claims they were working towards a smokefree world.
"Tobacco companies have recently made much of their desire to promote a smokefree world. However, these claims are inconsistent with their product innovations, which make smoked tobacco products more appealing to non-smoking young people," she said.
"Susceptible non-smokers were significantly more likely than daily smokers to view flavoured capsule cigarettes as smoother, more fun to smoke, more attractive and more stylish."