Responses to real-world and hypothetical e-cigarette flavor bans among US young adults who use flavored e-cigarettes.
Tam J., Jimenez Mendoza E., Buckell J., Sindelar J., Meza R.
IntroductionE-cigarette flavor bans could reduce or exacerbate population health harms. To determine how US e-cigarette flavor restrictions might influence tobacco use behavior, this study assesses responses to real-world and hypothetical flavor bans among young adults who use flavored e-cigarettes.MethodsAn online, national survey of young adults ages 18-34 who use flavored e-cigarettes was conducted in 2021 (n=1,253), oversampling states affected by e-cigarette flavor restrictions. Participants were asked about their responses to real-world changes in the availability of flavored e-cigarettes. Unaffected participants were asked to predict their responses under a hypothetical federal e-cigarette flavor ban.ResultsThe most common response to real-world changes in flavored e-cigarettes availability was to continue vaping (~80%). Among those who exclusively vaped, 12.5% switched to combustible tobacco. Quitting all forms of tobacco was selected by 5.3% of those exclusively vape vs. 4.2% who dual use. Under a hypothetical federal ban, more than half of respondents stated they would continue vaping; 20.9% and 42.5% of those who exclusively vape vs dual use would use combustible tobacco. Quitting all tobacco products was endorsed by 34.5% and 17.2% of those who exclusively vape vs dual use.ConclusionsYoung adults who vape flavored e-cigarettes have mixed responses to e-cigarette flavor bans. Under both real-world and hypothetical e-cigarette flavor bans, most who use flavored e-cigarettes continue vaping. Under a real-world ban, the second most common response among those who exclusively vape is to switch to smoking; under a hypothetical federal ban, it is to quit all tobacco.ImplicationsThis is the first national survey to directly ask young adults who use flavored e-cigarettes about their responses to real-world changes in flavored e-cigarette availability due to state and local flavor restrictions. The survey also asked individuals to predict their responses under a hypothetical federal e-cigarette flavor ban. Most who use flavored e-cigarettes would continue vaping following e-cig flavor restrictions, but many would switch to or continue using combustible tobacco, highlighting potential negative public health consequences of these policies. Policymakers must consider the impact of e-cigarette flavor bans on both e-cigarette and cigarette use.