Health & Studies

Flavour Removal and Smoking Relapse

Planet of the Vapes looks at the second research paper this week that considers how removing flavours from eliquids impacts smoking cessation and smoking relapse in ex-smokers

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Planet of the Vapes looks at the second research paper this week that considers how removing flavours from eliquids impacts smoking cessation and smoking relapse in ex-smokers. The paper, ‘Exploring the opinions and potential impact of unflavoured e-liquid on smoking cessation among people who smoke and smoking relapse among people who previously smoked and now use e-cigarettes: findings from a UK-based mixed methods study’, by Khouja, Dyer, Havill, Dockrell, Munafò and Attwood was published in Harm Reduction Journal.

Taking a positive view from the outset, the authors note that vapes “appear to be effective in helping people who smoke to stop smoking”.

They add though, “concerns about use of e-cigarettes among young people have led to restrictions on non-tobacco flavoured e-liquids in some countries and some US states. These restrictions could reduce the appeal of these products to non-smoking youth but could have negative consequences for people who smoke or use e-cigarettes.”

The team considered the argument that vapes may act as a gateway into smoking but stated that evidence from time-series analyses in England have not supported this theory.

The team detailed the concern that drove the research: “Restrictions on the sale of flavoured e-liquids could result in people who transitioned from smoking to vaping returning to smoking (i.e., relapsing). Just under one in five people who use e-cigarettes surveyed in Great Britain stated that they would smoke more or revert to smoking if flavours were no longer available.”

They recruited subjects, half smokers and half ex-smokers/now vapers, and gave them vape kits that contained unflavoured eliquid.

In their feedback, the subjects who vaped usually described the flavourless juice as a harsher experience than their usual vape and people who smoked describing the experience as having less throat hit compared to smoking.

The team concluded: “This study provides an insight into the potential impact of e-liquid flavour restrictions in the UK. At a time when there is considerable pressure on the UK government to address the rise in e-cigarette use among young people, this study indicates the impact of a flavour ban from the perspectives of people who have used and could use e-cigarettes to quit smoking. When making policy decisions, it is important to consider evidence such as this to avoid negative consequences and increase the likelihood of the policy reducing population-level harm.

Our findings are consistent with previous evidence suggesting that the experiential aspects of e-liquids are important and could influence behaviour.”

They believe that restricting flavours could lead people to continue to smoke or for ex-smokers to return back to smoking.

“The findings highlight that people who smoke and vape could be impacted by flavour restrictions in a range of ways, some of which could have a potential adverse impact on harm reduction efforts in the UK (e.g., by making smoking more appealing than vaping)”

If you would like to write to your MP about how important flavours were to your quitting smoking:

  • The various government websites are currently being updated with details of the new MPs. Keep checking this one so you can write directly to yours: https://www.writetothem.com/?a=westminstermp
  • Also, you can write to Wes Streeting at the Department for Health at the following address - Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries Unit, Department of Health and Social Care, 39 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0EU
  • You can send an email to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care here: [email protected].         

References:

  • Exploring the opinions and potential impact of unflavoured e-liquid on smoking cessation among people who smoke and smoking relapse among people who previously smoked and now use e-cigarettes: findings from a UK-based mixed methods study - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC11067290/
Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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