Ban On Flavours?
There is a lot of interest in vaping flavours at the moment with all the talk about the FDA’s ban. This ban limits the sale of flavours other than tobacco and menthol. The FDA believes the majority of flavours appeal to teenagers and has restricted them with the intention of making vaping less desirable to teenagers.
This ban has received a lot of criticism because it could make it harder for smokers in the US to use vaping to help them quit. But how do different flavours affect the popularity of vaping with different demographics and what would a ban do to smokers trying to give up?
A recent study by the Centre for Substance Use Research explores these questions in detail.
Why this research is important
The flavour ban from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is based on the idea that a lot of vaping flavours appeal to teenagers or are even marketed specifically at young people.
The FDA claims that by limiting the sale and advertising of these flavours they can reduce the number of American teenagers vaping. But critics of the ban say that reducing the variety of e-liquids and making them harder to buy will only make it more difficult for smokers trying to use vaping to help them quit. Critics also point out that the number of teenagers who regularly vape in the US hasn’t been increasing in recent years.
We need to understand whether limiting vape flavours and marketing will reduce teenage vaping or just make it harder for smokers to quit. Around half of smokers will die as a result of smoking related illnesses, so if the ban makes it harder for people to quit that could have disastrous consequences for the health of the US.
The best way to understand which side is right is to take a look at the research into how vaping flavours affect the popularity of vaping products.
Research And Results
The study by the Centre for Substance Use Research was designed to examine any link between the use of different e-liquid flavours and successfully using vaping to quit smoking.
Supporters of the FDA ban have said that limiting e-liquids to mostly tobacco flavours shouldn’t impact smokers trying to use vaping to quit. But are they right?
The majority of vapers turn to vaping in the first place to help them give up cigarettes and vaping has been proven to almost double the chances of successfully quitting for good. Does the variety of flavours help people quit?
Most vapers will already know how popular the variety of flavours are. New and exciting flavours are a popular talking point and while many of us started out with tobacco, we soon turned to new flavours.
To explore the possible link between flavours, popularity and quitting cigarettes, an online survey was carried out with more than twenty thousand participants in the US. The survey examined differences in flavour preferences between vapers who still smoked, vapers who had successfully quit and vapers who had never smoked.
The survey found that more than seventy-five percent of vapers surveyed had successfully given up tobacco products with e-cigarettes.
When it comes to the popularity of flavours, the survey showed that the number of first-time vapers who chose tobacco flavours dropped from forty-six to twenty-four percent over the last five years. Tobacco and menthol flavoured e-liquids have been dropping in popularity as more varieties become available.
The number of first-time vapers who chose fruit flavours almost doubled in the last five years. Fruit, beverage and confectionery flavours have been increasing in popularity and have become the most common e-liquid flavours.
According to this survey, tobacco flavours are going out of fashion. While flavours that the FDA ban wants to restrict are increasingly popular among smokers who want to use vaping to help them quit, or have already successfully given up cigarettes.
The FDA claims that these flavours attract teenagers and that vaping is a gateway to smoking. But the survey showed that the majority of vapers were between the ages of 26 and 55 and there is no evidence that vaping leads to smoking. Organisations like Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians agree with findings that vaping isn’t a gateway to smoking.
Ban Or No Ban
The results of this survey of more than twenty thousand vapers shows that tobacco and menthol flavours have become less popular. In fact, fruitful and confectionery flavours, the very flavours that the FDA ban restricts, are growing in popularity with vapers who have successfully given up smoking.
Even smokers who turned to vaping to help them quit are more likely to choose a non-tobacco flavour for their first e-liquid. This suggests that the variety of vaping flavours is an important factor for people trying to give up smoking.
With non-tobacco flavours so popular among people who’ve successfully quit smoking, it seems that the critics of the FDA ban may be right. Restricting the sale of non-tobacco flavours will make it harder for smokers looking to use vaping to give up tobacco products.
Many smokers want to get away from the taste of tobacco as quickly as possible and the variety of vaping flavours helps make that transition easier.
The research also indicates that the majority of vapers in the US are adults between the ages of 26 and 55. Surveys by the charity ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) show that the number of American teenagers who regularly vape is below three percent and has remained at that level for years.
It seems that the FDA’s ban is as ill-conceived as the critics warned. Restricting the sale and advertising of these flavours is likely to make it harder for smokers to quit with the help of vaping. And it’s unlikely to have a meaningful impact on the number of teenagers who regularly vape, which is far less than the “epidemic” that the FDA claimed.