New Study Shows Proposed Flavor Ban Gives Huge Advantage To Big Tobacco

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Yale Professor conducted a study to determine the potential effects of a proposed e-liquid flavor ban

The FDA has long been concerned with the effects of e-cigarettes on our society. Despite the mounting evidence on the dramatic harm reduction value of vaping, FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, recently announced a new probe into the effects of e-liquid flavors on their uptake. According to the FDA, the examination will last a full 90 days during which they will be taking input from the public on possible courses of action. Some in the vaping community are concerned that if there isn’t enough of a response from the public, the FDA will quickly move to ban all e-liquid flavors that aren’t traditional tobacco.

That’s why a Yale Professor decided to conduct a survey looking into the real world effect flavors have on the efficacy of vaporizers as a smoking cessation tool. What he found was that not only do e-liquid flavors play a significant role in helping smokers quit, but they’re also helping to maintain the declining smoking rates across the country. According to his statistics, a flavor ban would actually increase combustible tobacco sales, not reduce them.

The New Study

The study was led by Dr. John Buckell of Yale University, and it was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Called Should Flavors be Banned in E-cigarettes? Evidence on Adult Smokers and Recent Quitters from a Discrete Choice Experiment, the study was designed to determine what sort of effect a flavor ban would have on the tobacco and vaping industries. The researchers interviewed over 2,000 vapers and former smokers about several different aspects of their habit, and how they believe it would be affected if a flavor ban was implemented.

After collecting their data, several interesting patterns began to emerge. By looking at different hypothetical scenarios, the team was able to determine the potential fallout from different types of flavors bans. Buckell and his team found that if menthol cigarettes were banned alongside all e-liquid flavors, over 8% of vapers would likely relapse into smoking, no longer having their preferred option. When his team calculated the probable change if only menthol cigarettes and menthol flavored e-liquid was banned, they found that the Big Tobacco sales would rise nearly 3%. But the most telling result of the study was when Dr. Buckell and his team concluded that if only menthol cigarettes were banned while leaving all e-liquid flavors untouched, Big Tobacco sales across the US would drop by nearly 5%.

What We Can Do

It’s clear based on Dr. Buckell’s research that an e-liquid flavor ban would do more harm than good. Luckily, as mentioned above, the FDA is currently accepting public input on the potential ban for another couple of months. You can, and should, submit your own objection to the FDA’s proposed ban or even make a call to your local congressperson or senator. But the best thing we can do is work together to show a united front.

In this spirit, renowned tobacco control experts, Dr. Farsalinos and Dr. Poulas have created an online survey that aims to collect as much information as possible to submit to the FDA as an objection to their flavor ban. The survey is free and anonymous, plus it only takes about 20 minutes to finish. Doing this will allow the respected doctors to bolster their defense of e-liquid flavors, showing just how important they’ve been to those who were able to quit smoking using vaporizers. The FDA public input period ends on the 19th of June, so it’s essential that we get as many vapers as possible to take the survey so their voice can be heard.

Implications

Dr. Buckell and his research make it clear, a flavor ban that targets e-liquid flavors will only help Big Tobacco. While the FDA’s intentions are seemingly good, they mistakenly believe that limiting the variety of flavor options for e-liquid will prevent more teens from picking up the habit. But according to the research, the opposite is more likely to occur, as those who had made a switch are more compelled to relapse without their favorite flavors. Given what we know from studies by Public Health England and others, vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking and should, therefore, be much preferred if the alternative is continued smoking.

But the harm doesn’t stop there. There’s another less obvious way in which a flavor ban would give a leg up to Big Tobacco. It’s no secret that companies like Philip Morris International see the writing on the wall for their industry. Over the last few years, PMI and others have shown clear signs that they’re planning for life beyond traditional cigarettes. Philip Morris representatives have even gone on the record several times stating that they plan on ending production of combustible cigarettes in the relatively near future.

With this being the case, it should be evident that they plan on taking over the smokeless market with their own devices such as PMI’s iQOS. If we take away one of the most significant advantages that the vaping industry has over Big Tobacco now, it will only be that much easier for those companies to ultimately take over. So it’s more critical now than ever that we join together in a unified voice by answering Dr. Farsalinos’ and the FDA’s call for public input. If we genuinely value the independent vaping industry, we must prove it.

What do you think about a potential flavor implemented by the FDA? Do you think research like Dr. Buckell’s will help make our case? Are you going to let your voice be heard, and if not, why? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.



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