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Flavors Key in Harm Reduction, Overall Public Health

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Imagine a world with no flavor. No sweet taste of strawberries, no cinnamon buns, no peppermint. Head into a bar and you’ll see an array of alcohol lining the shelves, infused with an endless list of lime, lemon, peach and more. So, why is the e-cigarette industry being threatened with no flavoring in e-liquids? We’ve seen the arguments against. This blog focuses on why flavoring is not only pleasant — it’s necessary to save lives.

First up, let’s address harm reduction. EurekAlert! recently reported about a peer-reviewed research study conducted by the Centre for Substance Use Research of more than 20,000 U.S.-based adult vapers published in theHarm Reduction Journal. In short, the research found that flavors “play a critical role in attracting — and retaining — smokers into the vaping category, directly contributing to tobacco harm reduction.”

Dr. Christopher Russell, deputy director of CSUR and the study’s lead researcher, said: “The results show that non-tobacco flavors, especially fruit-based flavors, are being increasingly preferred to tobacco flavours by adult vapers who have completely switched from combustible cigarettes to vapor products.” The survey, which was one of the largest ever with a flavor focus, found:

  • Of the 20,836 adult frequent e-vapor product users in the survey, nearly 16,000 had completely switched to from smoking to vaping; 5,000 were dual users
  • The most popular flavors were fruit/fruit beverage; dessert/pastry came in second; tobacco and menthol ranked fifth and sixth, respectively

“The data suggest that U.S. vapers' journeys toward quitting smoking are increasingly likely to start with, progress to, or be sustained by frequent use of vaping devices containing non-tobacco flavors," Russell told EurkeAlert!

Dr. Grant O’Connell, corporate affairs manager at Fontem Ventures, spoke in terms of flavor popularity and the San Francisco ban. “The declining popularity of tobacco flavors among adult vapers strongly suggests that flavor bans like the one recently passed in San Francisco could see vapers return to cigarette smoking and discourage other adult smokers from switching.”

Next up we’ll take a look at Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and his attempt to ban flavors. Instead of harm reduction, many public health organizations and individuals are preaching abstinence only, which is a naive approach. The Competitive Enterprise Institute says that “no credible researcher can deny that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking, simply because of the fact that, unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes have no combustion. Yet, anti-vaping advocates continue to push government to regulate these two different products the same way. They justify this based on the unproven hypothetical that e-cigarettes, especially candy- and fruit-flavored varieties, attract adolescents who would otherwise have never smoked. Their anxiety about this so-called ‘gateway effect’ has no basis in reality or research.” Let’s take a look at the facts as reported on by CEI:

  • Tobacco use among adolescents has declined faster since e-cigarettes came into the market.
  • E-cigarette use among teens has been on the decline since 2015. For high schoolers, e-cigarette use has dropped 30 percent since 2015.
  • A 2015 study found that flavors had no significant appeal to teens. That same study showed that flavor interest was higher among adult smokers and vapers.
  • Youth smoking has plummeted to the lowest levels ever recorded, falling by half between 2011 and 2016.
  • A survey of e-cigarette users in 2014 found that only 22 percent used a single flavor and only 15 percent cited “tobacco” as their primary flavor choice.
  • Another 2014 survey of more than 4,500 adults e-cigarette users found that tobacco seemed to be the preferred flavor for smokers who had recently switched to vaping, while longer-term ex-smokers preferred non-tobacco flavors. The majority of these vapers reported liking a variety of flavors and that flavor variety was crucial to their ability to stay smoke-free. The study found that the number of flavors regularly used by e-cigarette consumers was independently associated with complete smoking abstinence.
  • A 2018 study added to these results, finding that smokers are increasingly likely to switch to e-cigarettes with a non-tobacco flavor and those that started with tobacco flavor more likely to switch to non-tobacco flavors over time.

We at Cyclops urge you to call your legislators; be aware and help advocate for flavors. You could be saving a loved one’s life — or your own. And, of course, try out our line of Godly flavors.

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