Impact Of A Flavour Ban

Posted 28th March 2019 by Dave Cross
John Buckell and Jody Sindelar at Yale’s School of Public Health have investigated the possible results from banning flavours with Joachim Marti of the Université de Lausanne’s Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine. They concluded such action would result in more smokers.

“Should flavours be banned in cigarettes and e-cigarettes? Evidence on adult smokers and recent quitters from a discrete choice experiment” has been published in journal Tobacco Control.

Buckell, Sindelar and Marti surveyed over two thousand current and ex-smokers, asking them about their preferences for smoking and/or vaping. The team wanted to flesh out what the likely impact would be of banning flavours in e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes, or both at the same time.

Oddly, they begin the paper: “Although e-cigarettes are considered to be less harmful than cigarettes, there are concerns that they may lead to initiation of e-cigarettes”.

Although the fear is about non-smoking teens taking up vaping, it displays a bias against tobacco harm reduction. As vaping is less harmful than smoking, “initiation of e-cigarettes” is something that should be embraced.

Listing how vaping has blossomed since its introduction, the team continue: “This growth in e-cigarettes use has led to concern over their impact on the health of the public and interest in regulating them. Some cities and counties have already implemented bans on the sale of flavoured cigarettes and e-cigarettes. At the national level, the Centre for Tobacco Products of the Food and Drug Administration is considering banning flavours in tobacco products.”

They note how the subject of banning flavours is complex as vaping works as a substitute for cigarettes and (although the level is debated) the use of ecigs is far safer than smoking.

The results found that “policy-makers seeking to minimise the use of cigarettes should ban only menthol in cigarettes.”

If applied to vaping, “a ban on all e-cigarette flavours but tobacco is an inferior option; 8.3% would change from e-cigarettes to cigarettes and only around 3.0% would change from e-cigarette to ‘none’.”

The team concluded: “These results indicate that flavours of cigarettes and e-cigarettes drive choices across products and opting-out (ie, selecting neither). Consequently, flavour bans drive the choice of product.”

“Adult smokers and recent quitters prefer cigarettes to e-cigarettes, they tend to prefer tobacco to sweet, fruit and menthol flavours.”

“Our predictions suggest that banning all flavours in e-cigarettes except tobacco, while allowing menthol in cigarettes, would result in the greatest increase in the selection of cigarettes but a decline in the use of e-cigarettes. By comparison, a ban only on menthol cigarettes would produce the greatest reduction in the use of cigarettes, and much of this movement from cigarettes would be to e-cigarettes with a smaller percentage opting-out (ie, selecting ‘none’).”

“A ban on non-tobacco flavours in both products would increase the choice of opting-out (‘none’) the most but would also increase the use of cigarettes and reduce the choice of e-cigarettes by a relatively large amount.”

With the Food and Drug Administration continuing to threaten to ban all flavoured vape products, this piece of work couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune time.

 

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 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker