A new study indicates vaping flavors are a major key to the success of quit attempts
Questions over the safety and efficacy of vaping have been prevalent ever since the devices first became popular almost ten years ago. From concerns over their level of harm to their impact on the youth, critics have no shortage of things to point their finger at. Despite the growing pile of research indicating the extreme harm reduction value of e-cigarettes, institutions such as the FDA insist on continuing their crusade against what they perceive as just another tobacco product. A favorite target has become the many different e-liquid flavors, with some questioning the long-term health effects, as well as the short-term impact on society.
That’s why it’s so great to see another piece of peer-reviewed research published looking into the positive and negative effects of vaping flavors. The study was published by researchers at the Centre for Substance Use Research in the UK and attempted to understand better how e-liquid flavor choice changed over time for regular vapers. What they discovered is, indeed, limiting access to the full variety flavors only discourages smokers from even attempting a switch to e-cigarettes in the first place.
The New Study
The recently published article wanted to understand what flavors new vapers chose, then compare it with their selections after vaping for a while. The researchers believe that understanding what role e-liquid flavors have on e-cigarette adoption, as well as smoking cessation, is vital to understanding how they should be regulated moving forward. This is only made more important due to the insistence of administrations such as the FDA that flavors provide no added benefit to the smoking cessation efforts of an individual, despite their lack of hard evidence on the topic.
They first surveyed a sample of 20,836 adults who regularly use e-cigarettes, about their e-liquid choices. The vast majority (76.4%) of respondents had entirely switched from smoking to vaping, indicating their effectiveness as a smoking cessation tool. Among that 76%, the rate of buying fruit-flavored e-liquids as their first choice increased from only 17.6% before 2011, to 33.5% by June 2016. At the same time, tobacco flavored e-liquids being the first choice of new vapers dropped from 46.0% before 2011 down to 24.0% in 2016. Additionally, traditional tobacco and menthol flavors accounted for the first and second most popular e-liquid flavors back in 2013, but these days they only come in ranked at 5th and 6th respectively.
The researchers concluded, “Adult frequent e-cigarette users in the USA who have completely switched from smoking cigarettes to using e-cigarettes are increasingly likely to have initiated e-cigarette use with non-tobacco flavors and to have transitioned from tobacco to non-tobacco flavors over time. Restricting access to non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors may discourage smokers from attempting to switch to e-cigarettes.”
FDA Flavor Probe
While researchers are still hard at work figuring out the real benefits and risks of vaping, the FDA is quietly moving toward a total ban on all e-liquid flavors that aren’t tobacco or menthol. The FDA is currently still in their public opinion period, where they’re taking comments from the public about how e-cigarettes have affected their lives. Experts believe that if they don’t receive an overwhelming amount of support from the public, they’ll undoubtedly continue their push for an e-liquid flavor ban.
This even though other researchers have also concluded that a flavor ban would have adverse outcomes on public health. Just earlier this year, a researcher from Yale University published a paper that looked into the potential routes a flavor ban could take, and what it might mean for society. Dr. John Buckell interviewed over 2,000 vapers and former smokers to determine how a flavor ban might unfold. He concluded that if menthol cigarettes were banned alongside most e-liquid flavors, around 8% of the vaping population would relapse into smoking. Alternatively, if only menthol cigarettes were banned, instead of e-liquid flavors, tobacco sales across the country would drop around 5%.
Fully understanding the impact of vaping on society’s health is a vital question to answer if we ever want to utilize them to their fullest potential. For many vapers, the wide variety of e-liquid flavors is precisely what got them to commit to the switch in the first place. While most critics have slammed this reasoning as purely anecdotal, more and more evidence is being published that supports this common claim.
If they prove to be accurate, it only highlights the extreme need for more research into the long-term effects of vaping and e-liquid flavors on continued smoking cessation success. After all, given that we already know vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, it’s worth learning exactly how to maximize the potential benefits. So if we ever want to live in a world free of tobacco, we must continue to support research which sheds light on the lesser asked questions surrounding vaping.
Do you believe that vaping flavors are vital to their success? Do you think a flavor ban could lead former smokers back to cigarettes? What’s the most crucial part of making a successful quit attempt? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.
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