Flavor Ban Didn’t Stop Vapers

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    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ban on flavored tobacco products, except for menthol and tobacco flavors, did not stop consumers from vaping, reports EurekAlert!, citing a study published in Tobacco Control.

    The study showed that less than 5 percent of the 3,500 adult e-cigarette users surveyed quit using e-cigarettes in response to the ban. The remaining respondents switched to other forms of tobacco products or flavors of e-cigarettes that are not covered by the ban. 

    “An increasing body of literature shows that e-cig flavors themselves cause damage when inhaled, so it makes sense to ban flavors,” said Deborah J. Ossip, a tobacco research expert and professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences and Center for Community Health and Prevention at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) who co-authored the study. “But the ban doesn’t appear to be working. People—including youth—can still get flavored products and are still using them.”

    Lead study author Dongmei Li, associate professor of clinical and translational research, obstetrics and gynecology and public health sciences at URMC, stated that a big issue is that the ban did not cover products such as disposable e-cigarettes and e-cigarettes that use tanks rather than cartridges or pods.

    “Other forms of flavored e-cigs, especially disposable e-cigs, have become very popular after the FDA policy,” Li said. “The FDA policy also did not ban menthol[-flavored] or tobacco-flavored products—and our study shows many people switched to menthol-flavored e-cigs after the ban. It seems many people find menthol to be a nice flavor.”

    Of the survey respondents, nearly 30 percent switched to tank or disposable flavored e-cigarettes and another 30 percent switched to menthol-flavored or tobacco-flavored pods; 14 percent switched to combustible products, like cigarettes, and 5 percent switched to smokeless tobacco. Less than 5 percent quit using e-cigarettes following the ban.