Flavours are not the reason for youth uptake
The idea that flavoured vaping products contribute to youth vaping is a common misconception that has been discredited by the Centers of Decease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC report “Tobacco Product Use and Associated Factors Among Middle and Highschool Students”, 77.7 percent of young people indicated that they vape for reasons other than flavours. The most common reason for use among youth was, “I was curious about them.”
The data from several states and provinces which have banned flavours has shown that flavour bans cause smoking rates to increase.
“Should flavours be banned in cigarettes and e-cigarettes? Evidence on adult smokers and recent quitters from discrete choice experiment,” published in the British Medical Journal concludes, “A ban on flavoured e-cigarettes alone would likely increase the choice of cigarettes in smokers, arguably the more harmful way of obtaining nicotine, whereas a ban on menthol cigarettes alone would likely be more effective in reducing the choice of cigarettes. A ban on all flavours in both products would likely reduce the smoking/vaping rates, but the use of cigarettes would be higher than in the status quo.
The data further shows that not only do flavour bans increase smoking rates, they have no effect on youth vaping rates.
After intense criticism that flavours were attracting youth, Juul voluntarily removed flavours from the United States, the only remaining flavour options were tobacco, mint and menthol. A study by the American Cancer Society published in the American Journal of Public Health has proven that flavours do not affect youth vaping rates. After removing flavours youth did not quit vaping but instead switched to tobacco, mint or menthol.
The only study to contradict these finding was conducted by Smoke Free Nova Scotia. The study concluded 95.8% of youth prefer flavoured e-liquid over unflavoured e-liquid. It also reported that 48.3% of youth who vape would stop vaping if vapour products were banned. This data has not been replicated by any other study, which is unsurprising as the study was not a random survey. Scientific surveys must be from random samples of the designated population. Respondents self-selected and were compensated at $10 per complete survey. This violates the first rule of sampling and objectivity.
While flavours are not the cause of youth uptake, they are a significant factor in what makes vaping more successful than other nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products. This phenomenon is not unique to vapour products. It is well documented with other NRTs that flavours reduce cravings and increase success rates. There has been no connection made between flavours and increased abuse potential. According to a study by the Behavioural Pharmacology Research Unit, John Hopkins University School of Medicine, “Both flavors of nicotine gum decreased craving during 2 h of abstinence. These effects were more pronounced in the adult group and mint gum was more effective than original gum. Younger subjects reported fewer withdrawal symptoms and lower ratings for drug effects and flavor. Improved flavor of nicotine gum does not increase abuse liability, but may be associated with enhanced craving reduction.”
The study, “Associations of Flavored e-Cigarette Uptake With Subsequent Smoking Initiation and Cessation,” conducted by Yale researchers concluded that, “adults who began vaping nontobacco-flavored e-cigarettes were more likely to quit smoking than those who vaped tobacco flavors. More research is needed to establish the relationship between e-cigarette flavors and smoking and to guide related policy.” The researchers went on to state, “While proposed flavour bans are well-intentioned, they have disastrous outcomes. Legislation on vaping flavours must take the facts of smoking cessation and harm reduction into account, and we urge legislators against the widespread implementation of such bans.”