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US Flavour Fail

A new study looking at the impact of flavour bans in the United States has shown that The FDA’s misplaced war on tobacco harm reduction is completely failing

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A new study conducted by a research team at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Centre in New York has looked at the impact of flavour bans in the United States. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Centre for Tobacco Products (CTP) has been waging a war on e-liquid flavours since it published a document about them in 2020. The researchers discovered that restricting the availability of flavours has been a complete failure.

In the US in 2019, more than 5 million youth were using e-cigarettes, including nearly 1 million using e-cigarettes every day,” the authors write.

The FDA, seeking to address this, released its document on guidance and enforcement priorities. It stated that efforts should be prioritised to enforce all efforts towards “any flavoured, cartridge-based ENDS [electronic nicotine delivery system] product (other than a tobacco- or menthol-flavoured ENDS product).”

The CTP followed this up later that year by calling on disposable manufacturers to remove flavoured products from their brand ranges because they were “youth-appealing”.

Karin Kasza, David Hammond, Jessica Reid, Cheryl Rivard, and Andrew Hyland wanted to know how this clampdown effected teen use of vape products.

The team look at the data contained in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study for 2019 and 2021. The PATH data is the go-to source for information about youth tobacco use (and vaping behaviour) covering transition to and from vaping, the types of devices used, the flavours vaped, the types of preferred brands, how often they vape and the level of nicotine used.

The analysis they conducted considered information gained from 9,088 subjects between the ages of 12 and 17 and compared this to responses given by the same cohort two years later.

They discovered that over half of those who were vaping sweet flavours in 2019 were continuing to use vape products in 2021. This was an almost identical finding to those who self-reported using tobacco- or menthol-flavoured products only in 2019.

How, when the juices were limited or banned?

The team found they had either switched to another flavour/vape brand combination or moved to sourcing sweet flavour disposable vapes. In fact, they saw that the demand for sweet flavour disposable vapes rose dramatically across this period.

The researchers concluded: “In this cohort study that examined CTP’s e-cigarette enforcement prioritisation in 2020, we found no evidence of differences in e-cigarette continuation rates between youth who previously used the targeted e-cigarettes and youth who used other e-cigarettes.

“Most youth who used the targeted products in 2019 and continued e-cigarette use in 2021 had switched to flavor/device combinations that were excluded from CTP’s enforcement priorities.

“Restrictions and enforcement efforts that only cover a subset of products do not appear to be associated with preventing youth flavoured e-cigarette use.”

All the effort, all the misinformation, and all the wasted millions of dollars for nothing.

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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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