29.05.2024

Restricting e-cigarettes to ‘tobacco flavour’ could slash teens vapers by 70 per cent

Limiting e-cigarette flavours to tobacco could cut use among teens by 70 per cent, a study found. Ditching fruit flavours would significantly reduce the appeal of vaping among the young, according to research.

A survey of 1,414 e-cigarette users between ages 14 and 21 found almost four in ten (38.8 per cent) said they would discontinue e-cigarette use if they only had the choice of that tobacco and menthol-flavoured e-liquids.

This leapt to 70.8 per cent if tobacco became the only option, according to the findings published in the Journal of Studies on and Drugs.

Those surveyed had all used the product at least once per day in the 30 days before completing the questionnaire. They were asked about which flavours they typically use out of tobacco, menthol, cool mint, fruit ice and fruit/sweet.

Adolescents and young adults who preferred vaping fruit or sweet flavours were most sensitive to either restricted scenario compared with other flavour preferences.

Researchers from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said those using flavours with cooling additives, such as fruit ice, reported higher odds of discontinuing use under a tobacco-only product standard, compared with menthol flavour users.

A study suggests ditching fruit flavours from e-cigarettes would significantly reduce the appeal of vaping among young people (stock image)

A study suggests ditching fruit flavours from e-cigarettes would significantly reduce the appeal of vaping among young people (stock image)

Senior study author Alayna Tackett said: ‘In this sample of adolescents and young adults, it appears that non-tobacco flavours may be important for their interest in and continued use of e-cigarettes.’

But she noted the potential impact of e-cigarette regulation on adults who smoke and have begun using e-cigarettes as an alternative to quitting altogether.

‘Many adults prefer using non-tobacco flavours to switch from combustible cigarettes to e-cigarettes,’ she added.

‘Flavour restriction policies should consider the best ways to protect public health while also supporting adults who are interested in choosing potentially less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes.’

It comes after MPs heard vapes were a ‘public health ticking timebomb’ for under 18s.

Tory MP Neil Hudson (Penrith and The Border) suggested the products could be hidden from view in shops to stop the ‘appealing, colourful, fruit-flavoured’ choices appearing ‘like sweeties on shelves’.

His remarks came as he pressed the Government to take further action to discourage vape usage among under-18s.

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Hudson highlighted reports of vapes being ‘illicitly traded in the playground’ and children setting alarms to vape in the night.

He said: ‘Setting their alarms for two or three in the morning so they can vape in the middle of the night to avoid withdrawal symptoms the next day.

‘At school there have been reports of students leaving lessons and even walking out of examinations because they simply cannot last without the use of a vape.

‘If vaping is having detrimental impacts on the life chances of our young children this is not merely a matter of health but one of social and educational development.

‘One teacher in my constituency even noted that so widespread is the issue that vapes are being illicitly traded in the school playground.’

Ministers last month pledged a crackdown on the illegal sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s with an ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’.

They are also seeking to identify other ways to reduce the number of children using the products, which allow people to inhale nicotine in a vapour rather than smoke.

Mr Hudson said there is also ‘flagrant targeting’ of under-18s by advertising, including on social media.

Pressed on what more the Government should be doing to prevent children from vaping, Mr Hudson replied: ‘Calling for evidence and having a taskforce is a good starting post, but I think we need to do more.

‘I think we really need to tackle the advertising, making sure that the labelling is sufficient.’

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