The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) has continually attributed flavours to the high success rate of vaping while cautioning government and health officials that banning flavours would cause an increase in smoking rates and black-market sales. A study published by the National Library of Medicine, “The Impact of a Comprehensive Tobacco Flavour Ban in San Francisco Among Young Adults,” has concluded the same findings.
A sample of San Francisco residents was surveyed about their tobacco use before and after the flavour ban. The study found that banning flavoured tobacco and vapour products led to a decline in e-cigarettes and cigars but caused smoking rates to increase. It also found that 65% of participants believed that the flavour ban had not been properly enforced. Most participants reported being able to obtain flavoured products in multiple ways despite the ban. “These findings suggest that comprehensive local flavour bans, by themselves, cannot sharply reduce the availability or use of flavoured tobacco products among residents. Nevertheless, local bans can still significantly reduce overall e-cigarette use and cigar smoking but may increase cigarette smoking,” the study concluded.
The idea that flavoured vaping products contribute to youth vaping is a common misconception that has been discredited by the Centers for Decease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC report “Tobacco Product Use and Associated Factors Among Middle and Highschool Students,” only 22.3 percent of young people indicated that they vape “because e-cigarettes are available in flavours, such as mint, candy, fruit or chocolate.” The most common reason for use among youth was, “I was curious about them.”
The rise in youth vaping rates here in Canada directly correlate to the entrance of Big Tobacco vape brands, such as Juul and Vype. With the entrance of tobacco owned vape brands, came aggressive advertising campaigns which were not restricted to adult environments. Additionally, the products distributed by these brands have nicotine concentrations of 57 – 59 milligrams per millilitre, making them highly addictive, and the devices are very easily concealed. The UK has not seen a rise in youth vaping as a result of the nicotine limit that had been established in the European Union prior to the entrance of tobacco owned high nicotine vape brands; this nicotine limit meant that the high nicotine vape products distributed by companies like Juul and Vype did not affect youth vaping rates.
It is well documented with other nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) 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 flavours 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 the original gum. Younger subjects reported fewer withdrawal symptoms and lower ratings for drug effects and flavour. The improved flavour of nicotine gum does not increase abuse liability, but may be associated with enhanced craving reduction.”
In addition to flavours being the key driver for vaping success rates, flavours must remain available through regulated channels as a matter of consumer safety. The EVALI outbreak demonstrated the serious harm to public health unregulated products pose. Removing legal channels to flavoured vapour products will allow the black market to flourish, putting unregulated and potentially lethal products in the hands of thousands of consumers.
Approximately 90% of adult vapers use flavoured products. Smokers increase their chance of quitting smoking by 83% by vaping, compared to any other cessation method. Removing flavours is a disservice to public health, as the data has conclusively shown this leads to increased smoking rates and an increase in unregulated black-market products.
Source: The Canadian Vaping Association