Evidence collected over the last decade indicates that flavors are essential for adults looking to use vaping products to quit smoking. Indeed, a new study published finds flavored vapor products to be more effective than tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes in helping adults remain smoke-free.
A new study published by JAMA Network Open examines the role of flavors in electronic cigarettes and vapor products and their influence on subsequent smoking initiation and cessation by both youth and adults. The use of flavored e-cigarettes was associated with more than twice the odds of smoking cessation among adult users compared to those using tobacco flavors. And despite a decade of hype about a supposed ‘gateway’ effect from vaping to cigarettes for young people, the researchers found no evidence to support the claim that flavors increase the chances of youth beginning to smoke.
The authors identified 17,929 respondents aged 12 to 54 years old, with data collected between 2013 and 2018. The study examined “differences in smoking initiation and cessation subsequent to vaping uptake among those who used flavored vs unflavored e-cigarettes, separately by age group.”
The study concluded that flavored e-cigarette use “was no more associated with youth smoking initiation than vaping tobacco-flavors.” Further, adults that used flavored vapor products “were more likely to subsequently quit smoking than those who used unflavored e-cigarettes.”
The findings are significant as the results indicate that flavors in e-cigarettes have no association with subsequent youth smoking initiation.
Co-author Abigail S. Friedman, PhD., of the Yale School of Public Health, told United Press International, “Our findings are consistent with the claim that non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes are more strongly associated with adult smoking cessation than tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes.”
The new study adds to the growing literature that flavors are essential for adult e-cigarette users. At this time four states – Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island – ban the sale of flavored vapor products. Other states including California, Florida and Montana are have introduced and/or are introducing similar bans.
Although lawmakers have pushed forward with flavor bans to stem youth e-cigarette use, this study adds to growing literature that youth are not using vapor products solely due to flavors. In analyses of youth vaping surveys, youth are overwhelmingly using e-cigarettes out of curiosity and because friends and/or family members use them.
Moreover, studies on youth vapor product use indicate that many youth e-cigarette users are using such products once or twice a month, often in social settings.
Removing flavors from vapor products is unlikely to reduce youth e-cigarette use, but such bans will greatly harm both current adult e-cigarette users and current combustible cigarettes users by eliminating tobacco harm reduction options.
The American Vaping Association continues to fight against flavor bans and draconian prohibitions that threaten adult access to vapor products.