FLAVOURS ARE IMPORTANT
Posted on 19 April 2021
The Federal Government’s decision
Recently the federal government has proposed a revision to the current vape product legislation that would include prohibiting the sale of flavoured e-liquid. The government's claim is that restricting access to flavours will make vaping less appealing to youth, and be an effective way to mitigate the youth vaping epidemic. The misconception that flavoured e-liquid contributes to the prevalence of youth vaping has been debunked by both the CDC and the American Public Health Association. This study examines the relationship between the sale of JUUL pods, a popular choice for youth in America, and the availability of popular JUUL flavours, notability finding no long term decrease in sales after flavoured products were withdrawn from retail locations.
It is also misleading to refer to the current figures on youth tobacco use as an epidemic. This study concludes that the opposite is true when it comes to youth and nicotine consumption, stating “Electronic cigarettes may have offset conventional smoking among US adolescents between 2010 and 2018 by maintaining the total nicotine use prevalence and diverting them from more harmful conventional smoking. Additionally, electronic cigarette users appear to initiate at older ages relative to conventional smokers, which is associated with lower risk.”
Knowing that the youth vaping epidemic is rooted in myth and that banning flavours does little to deter the youth who are vaping, what effect would a comprehensive flavour ban have on the industry?
Flavours are important and here is why
There have been a handful of studies done which suggest that flavour options in e-liquid and other nicotine replacement therapies directly influence the likelihood that an adult smoker will completely transition away from combustible cigarettes. The Behavioural Pharmacology Research Unit at John Hopkins University School of Medicine reported that study participants who were given flavoured NRT gum experienced fewer withdrawal symptoms and lower ratings for drug effects. The study also reported that the improved flavor of nicotine gum did not increase abuse liability, but may be associated with enhanced craving reduction, making flavours in NRT products essential if we hope to make any significant impact in tobacco harm reduction.
In another study by Yale researchers, it was concluded that “adults who began vaping non tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes were more likely to quit smoking than those who vaped tobacco flavors. More research is needed to establish the relationship between e-cigarette flavors and smoking and to guide related policy.”
It’s clear that the best way forward with harm reduction is continuing to encourage adult smokers to transition to a less harmful tobacco alternative. Current research shows that the health risk of e-liquid is significantly less than that of combustible cigarettes. A study published in the British Medical Journal best illustrates the negative effect on public health that a flavour ban would have. According to researchers “A ban on flavoured e-cigarettes alone would likely increase the choice of cigarettes in smokers, arguably the more harmful way of obtaining nicotine, whereas a ban on menthol cigarettes alone would likely be more effective in reducing the choice of cigarettes. A ban on all flavours in both products would likely reduce the smoking/vaping rates, but the use of cigarettes would be higher than in the status quo. Policy-makers should use these results to guide the choice of flavour bans in light of their stance on the potential health impacts of both products.”
Tobaccokills.ca is a campaign that aims to educate the public about the government’s stance on vaping, as well as offer harm reduction supporters an avenue to have their voices heard in discussions surrounding vape regulations.
The campaign is backed by both vape users and independent retailers who have first-hand experience using vape products to reduce or stop their use of combustible cigarettes. Combustible cigarettes pose a significant health risk, killing 1 out of 2 long term smokers. Current research suggests that vaping is roughly 95% less harmful than cigarettes. Tobaccokills.ca is working to ensure the voices of adult vape users are centred in conversations about harm reduction so that less harmful alternatives to traditional tobacco remain a viable option for smokers.
Sign the petition
So what can we do about this? To have your voice heard in the debate surrounding a potentially harmful flavour ban on vape products we encourage you to check out reducetheharm.ca, envaper.rights4vapers.com, https://www.tobaccokills.ca for some excellent resources on how to get involved.