Limiting e-cigarette flavors to tobacco could reduce teen use by 70 percent, a study found.
According to research, cutting out fruit flavors would significantly reduce the appeal of vaping among young people.
A survey of 1,414 e-cigarette users aged 14 to 21 found that nearly four in 10 (38.8 percent) said they would stop using e-cigarettes if they only had a choice of e-cigarettes. liquids with tobacco and menthol flavor.
This would have risen to 70.8 percent if tobacco became the only option, according to findings published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
The respondents had all used the product at least once a day in the 30 days prior to completing the questionnaire. They were asked which flavors they typically use from tobacco, menthol, cool mint, fruit ice and fruit/sweet.
A study suggests ditching fruit flavors from e-cigarettes would significantly reduce the appeal of vaping among young people (stock image)
Adolescents and young adults who preferred vaping fruit or sweet flavors were most sensitive to both of these constrained scenarios compared to other taste preferences.
Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said those using flavors with cooling additives, such as fruit ice cream, reported higher odds of discontinuing use under a tobacco-only product standard, compared to menthol-flavored users.
Senior study author Alayna Tackett said, “In this sample of adolescents and young adults, it appears that non-tobacco tastes may be important to 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 started using e-cigarettes as an alternative to quitting altogether.
“Many adults prefer non-tobacco flavors to switch from combustible cigarettes to e-cigarettes,” she added.
“Taste restriction policies should consider the best ways to protect public health while supporting adults interested in choosing potentially less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes.”
It comes after MPs learned that vaping was a ‘ticking public health time bomb’ for under-18s.
Tory MP Neil Hudson (Penrith and The Border) suggested that the products could be hidden from view in shops to prevent the ‘appealing, colourful, fruit-flavoured’ choices from appearing ‘like candy on the shelves’.
His comments came as he urged the government to take further steps to discourage under-18 vaping use.
Speaking in parliament, Mr Hudson highlighted reports of vapes being ‘illegally trafficked on the playground’ and children raising the alarm to vape at night.
He said, “They set 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 dropping out of classes and even exams because they simply can’t last without the use of a vape.
“If vaping is having a detrimental impact on the life chances of our young children, it is not only a health issue, but also a social and educational development issue.
“A teacher in my constituency even commented that the problem is so widespread that vapes are being traded illegally in the schoolyard.”
Ministers vowed last month to crack down on the illegal sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s with an “illegal vapes enforcement team.”
They are also looking at other ways to reduce the number of children using the products, which would allow people to inhale nicotine in a vapor instead of smoking.
Mr Hudson said there is also ‘flagrant targeting’ of under 18s by advertisements, including on social media.
When asked what more the government should do to prevent children from vaping, Mr Hudson replied: ‘Calling for evidence and having a task force is a good starting point, but I think we need to do more.
“I think we really need to tackle the advertising, make sure the labeling is adequate.”