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Flavour Bans Increase Smoking

Research from the University of Waterloo has found that bans on e-liquid flavours would simply serve to drive ex-smokers back to tobacco products

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Research conducted by the University of Waterloo has found that bans on e-liquid flavours would simply serve to drive ex-smokers back to tobacco products. It says that most adult vapers of non-tobacco flavoured e-cigarettes overwhelmingly oppose flavour restrictions.

The work was carried out by the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Policy Evaluation Project, based in the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo.

The research team asked Canadian, English, and American regular vapers who only use non-tobacco flavoured e-cigarettes if they would support or oppose a ban on all non-tobacco flavours. They were also asked what they would do if a ban was ever enacted.

Professor Geoffrey Fong, co-author and the principal investigator of the ITC Project said: “Our study helps to fill the gaps in evidence of the possible impact of e-cigarette flavour bans, following from other studies that have predicted how smokers respond to tobacco control policies such as tax increases and menthol bans.”

Unfortunately, the drive to investigate the subject was not altogether positive. The team claims that the vaping industry produces thousands of flavoured vaping products, and links this to “rising rates of youth vaping”.

Independent data from both England and the United States demonstrates beyond doubt that the numbers of teens regularly vaping is very low, is confined to those who are or used to be smokers and is declining.

Despite this fact, they state that, “a ban on flavoured vaping products intends to discourage vaping among youth.

In their favour, they did pose themselves some sensible questions: “It is not clear whether a flavour ban would also discourage vaping among adult smokers who vape, who also like flavours. However, it is unknown whether there could be unintended effects of a flavour ban. For example, could those who have used flavoured e-cigarettes to cut down or quit smoking risk relapsing to smoking if flavoured e-cigarettes are no longer available?”

From their work:

  • 82% of the 851 vapers surveyed in the three countries say they oppose a flavour ban
  • 13% of vapers support a flavour ban
  • 5% don’t know

If e-liquid flavours were banned:

  • 57% would continue vaping
  • Half of those continuing to vape would use an available legal flavour
  • Half of those continuing to vape would find a way to get their preferred flavour(s)
  • 20% of vapers said they would stop vaping and return to smoking
  • 13% of vapers said that they did not know what they would do

Our findings raise the possibility that banning some flavoured vaping products may dissuade some adult smokers from vaping, with the possibility that they would return to smoking cigarettes, which are clearly much more harmful than vaping products, given that we know that at least half of regular smokers die of a smoking-caused disease,” said ITC research assistant professor Shannon Gravely, who was lead author of the study.


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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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