R Street Argues for Flavours

Posted 12th June 2018 by Mawsley
Clive Bates is well known for his harm reduction advocacy. The former ASH UK man, who campaigned against smoking, has embraced vaping as a tobacco-harm reduction tool. He has teamed up with Carrie Wade from The R Street Institute to produce a compelling and powerful document arguing for flavoured eliquids.

The R Street Institute is an American conservative and libertarian think tank. It’s stated mission is to "engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government." Carrie Wade is its Director of Harm Reduction Policy.

The published document is free from all e-cigarette, tobacco or pharmaceutical industry influence. Its independence ought to add weight to the contents but given the current climate of fear-driven nonsense it is difficult to predict the reception it will find in the offices that matter.

The American federal government set a 2010 objective to reduce adult cigarette smoking to less than 12 percent. This 2030 target aimed to reduce illness, disability, and death related to tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure. The authors argue that if it is to be achieved then harm reduction (and therefore vaping) has to play a pivotal role.

They cite the Royal College of Physicians’ report and point out that even the National Academies of Science has agreed: “while e-cigarettes are not without health risks, they are likely to be far less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes.”

Next they take the gateway argument head on: “Claims that e-cigarettes may somehow increase smoking by reducing smoking cessation have been carefully analysed and dismissed; an independent review team ultimately concluded that e-cigarettes are used to reduce smoking and harms not to increase them.” This comes from a 2017 study in the journal Addiction by Andrea C. Villanti et al.

The current argument against the use of flavour in vape juices revolves around ‘being marketed at kids and ‘the industry is targeting children for a lifetime of addiction’. The authors make four reasoned and evidenced points:

  • Most youth vaping is occasional or experimental use
  • Youth vaping, and especially regular vaping, is highly concentrated among those who smoke or have smoked
  • Most youth vaping is self-reported to be without nicotine
  • There has been a continuing rapid decline in teenage smoking

Then they state that the evidence points to a fact that many used to be unwilling to discuss: “Use, and especially regular use, is concentrated among smokers or former smokers where it may actually be substituting for smoking or helping young people to quit, as it appears to do for adults.” In fact, this issue runs so contrary to the current narrative that the Food and Drug Administration finds itself unable to acknowledge that vaping could have a harm reduction role to play in teen populations.

With no gateway and evidence that vaping actually helps teen smokers escape from tobacco use, where does that leave arguments to ban flavours? Bates and Wade argue that, given “every orally consumed tobacco/nicotine product is flavoured in one way or another”, eliminating flavour simply doesn’t make sense whichever way you look at it.

Regulation of juice flavours truly only has one role to play: “In non-combustible tobacco and nicotine products, flavour regulation should therefore be confined to toxicity and safety.”

The published document is free to download.