A study conducted by Yale researchers concluded that a flavor ban would likely lead to more people switching back to cigarettes
It has been a few months since the FDA has very openly been researching the effect of e-cigarettes on the county. During that time they have conducted a probe, gauged public interest, started a “blitz” on manufacturers and sellers of vaporizers and accessories, and funded several studies on various aspects of vaping. All this has been to gauge and decide on a course of action in the regulation of vaporizers and e-liquids. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has stated that preventing teen usage is his main concern with e-cigarettes. He believes flavors have a significant role in enticing youth to use these products. It is then unsurprising to hear that one of the regulation ideas being thrown around is a flavor ban. This would be a regulation put in place to ban all e-liquids that are not tobacco or menthol flavored.
With the concerns of a possible flavor ban looming, a team from Yale University decided to conduct a study. They did a survey that focused on the real world effects flavors have on vaping as a smoking cessation tool. The findings indicated that flavored e-liquids often play a significant role in helping smokers to quit. Flavors also help to maintain the declining smoking rates across the country, so much so that if flavors were banned, it would increase combustible tobacco sales.
Led by Dr. John Buckell, a professor at Yale University, the study was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research and is titled Should Flavors be Banned in E-cigarettes? Evidence on Adult Smokers and Recent Quitters from a Discrete Choice Experiment. Researchers designed the study to see what kinds of effects a flavor ban would have on both the vaping and tobacco industries. This was done by interviewing over 2000 smokers turned vapers about different aspects of their vaping, as well as how they would be affected by a flavor ban, if it were implemented.
Once the data was collected a few patterns emerged. Dr. Buckell and the team looked at various hypothetical situations and used that to determine a potential reaction to different levels of flavor bans. If, for instance, flavored e-liquids were banned along with menthol cigarettes then over 8% of vapers would be likely to relapse, becoming smokers again. If menthol cigarettes and only menthol e-liquids were banned, then tobacco sales would increase by almost 3%. The last hypothetical was the banning of only menthol cigarettes, leaving e-liquids be. In this scenario, Buckell and the team found that sales for Big Tobacco would drop almost 5%.
What You Can Do
The conclusion of this study makes it abundantly clear that if a flavor ban were put in place that it would ultimately benefit the tobacco industry and harm to those who would otherwise be tobacco free. Around the world, the fight against smoking is being waged, and of the varied reactions that legislatures have had to vaping, the most successful are those who have accepted it. Great Britain, as an example, has encouraged citizens looking to quit smoking to utilize vaping as a tool. As a result, they are on track to be tobacco-free within our lifetime.
It is the job of citizens to let their voices be heard. So those in the US who are concerned with the possibility of a flavor ban, or a ban on vaping altogether, ought to reach out to your local congressman and senators. Let them know what an impact vaping, and the flavors available, have had on your quit, and life moving forward. You can also let your voice be heard by participating in an online study that is being conducted by renowned tobacco control experts, Dr. Farsalinos and Dr. Poulas. This survey is anonymous and is aimed to collect information which can then be submitted to the FDA in objection to any possible bans. It only takes about 20 minutes to complete, but it could make a substantial difference in the fight against a flavor ban, and against tobacco.
What Dr. Buckell and his team uncovered with their research is that a ban which targets e-liquid flavorings will only serve to benefit Big Tobacco. The FDA’s motives may seem well-intentioned, but Commissioner Gottlieb has blatantly stated that he cares more about media conflated hysteria around vaping than he does about the 37.8 million smokers across the country. The threat of any sort of ban shows that disregard.
Not only would a ban benefit Big Tobacco in their traditional sales, but it would also even the playing field for them to take over the smokeless market. Philip Morris has admitted for years that they know the end is coming for cigarettes and their traditional tobacco products. In attempts to stay relevant and compete with the vaping industry, they have been developing heat-not-burn devices. These devices, which look like a vaporizer, use a stick of tobacco and heat it up for users to take a hit. If flavors are removed from the equation, then that would likely give tobacco companies the in to make their products more enticing.
It is more critical now that we, the vaping community, stand as a united front. The FDA and Big Tobacco threaten all the advancements we have made as a society against the tobacco industry. Please use your voice for good by letting lawmakers know how you feel about vaping. If we value these products and the independent vaping sector, we have to let it be known now.
Do you think the FDA will actually ban e-liquid flavors? Do you think a flavor ban would have negative consequences? What’s the best way to improve the public perception of vaping? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.