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08

Apr

2019

Do Certain Flavours Entice Teenagers into Consuming e-Cigarettes?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a ban on electronic cigarettes containing fruit and candy flavours last year. Retail shops and gasoline stations were affected by this ban, meaning that only tobacco, menthol and mint flavours are allowed to be sold by these outlets. Special vaping shops are not affected by it.
With this measure, the FDA wants to counteract the increase in the consumption of e-cigarettes by adolescents. For the manufacturers and distributors of the flavours, however, this could be a big loss.
In a further attempt to protect minors, the FDA wants to introduce stricter age verification rules for the online purchase of e-cigarettes and their associated liquids.
 

Fruit and chocolate flavours are popular among teenagers

Samir Soneji from the Darthmouth College in New Hampshire, USA, conducted a study to discover which age groups favour which tastes. In the process, the researcher found out that offering different flavours has a much greater impact on teenagers than on adults.
Teenagers and young adults were more likely to consume e-cigarettes than older people when those e-cigarettes came with fruity and sweet aromas. More than 90% of the teenagers said they preferred vaping because of the flavours. The same question, when asked to older consumers, returned different reasons, with health and affordability being the biggest two. The study also noted that adults preferred tobacco flavours.


Why are these measures being carried out?

The government had to act, because data proved that the consumption of e-cigarettes has risen sharply, especially among young people. The FDA stated an increase of more than 75%, which FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb regarded as a ubiquitous and dangerous trend.
This growth can also be illustrated by the increase in the sales of Juul. Between 2016 and 2018, its sale of steam appliances increased from 2.2 million to 16.2 million. Last year, the government was already threatening to ban Juul and four other “trendy” brands unless they acted to prevent adolescents from using their equipment.
 
The biggest impact of these regulations may be the liquids available in drugstores, as they have traditionally stocked many different fruit-based and cream-based flavours.


Protection of children and adolescents

The requirements in Germany for the protection of children and adolescents are very strict. In Germany, it is forbidden to sell vaping appliances and liquids to minors, and when buying online the recipient must first verify their age by providing identifying documents.
The Professional Association of Paediatricians criticised the large-scale campaigns for e-cigarettes out of a fear that smoking could be made socially acceptable again, which could ruin years of education.
Furthermore, according to the association, e-cigarettes are definitively harmful, because in addition to attractive artificial flavours, the liquids contain aromas and nicotine as well. For this reason, the association demands a complete ban on advertisements for e-cigarettes, in line with the existing ban on tobacco cigarettes.
Another study, by the Institute for Therapy and Health Research (IFT North) in Kiel, states that vaping could make it easier for young people to switch to tobacco cigarettes. Tenth grade students were observed for half a year and researchers noted that 22% of participants started smoking tobacco cigarettes after first consuming e-cigarettes, while only 10% of non-smokers resorted to cigarettes.
However, there are still many aspects which are not fully understood yet. Many steamers do not know where they are allowed to vape and where they are not. In general, there is no law prohibiting vaping in public areas or buildings, with the individual domicile setting its own rules. Nevertheless, the prohibition of vaping in many areas has prevailed, even without the odour issues that are associated with traditional cigarettes.


The e-cigarette and its benefits

E-cigarettes should not be completely vilified, because for many former smokers, it is an adequate substitute for tobacco cigarettes. Many smokers have managed to quit smoking by using e-cigarettes. Although the transition to e-cigarettes has been difficult for some people, many former smokers described how they used the e-cigarette to make quitting easier because they were still able to hold something in their hands and expel smoke from their mouths.
Obviously, it is better to stop smoking or vaping completely, but the e-cigarette is a good option for those who want to quit smoking.

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