As the founder of Respect Vapers, the grassroots group representing the voice of Ireland’s 200,000 people who use vaping as an alternative to tobacco, I’d like to provide you with some independent research from around the world on vaping flavours.
We are concerned that some people share the perception that the inclusion of flavours in vaping products is aimed at attracting young people to the products. This is not true.
The majority of vapers in this country are over 35 years of age.
Most of them take up vaping to quit smoking.
They are ‘Quitters, not cigarette starters’. Vapers regard flavours as an important ingredient in helping them to quit smoking.
Respect Vapers members will tell you that once you switch to vaping to quit smoking, you start to get your sense of taste and smell back again.
You also begin to reject the smell and taste of tobacco, so you opt instead to try other flavours.
We surveyed almost 800 vapers in Ireland and the majority of them use mint or fruit flavours.
Our experience of flavours is mirrored across the world and we include below a list of some of the scientific research findings on this subject for your consideration.
Independent surveys on vaping flavours
Europe. Vape flavours are very important for 78% of vapers. Flavour bans, in Finland and Estonia, and Hungary, are making it more difficult for people to stop smoking. In these countries, only 45% of vapers used a local source to get e-liquids, compared to 92.8% in countries without vape tax and flavours ban, resulting in a loss of tax and an inability to ensure quality. EU Nicotine users survey 2020, European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA).
UK – “Vapers said that banning flavoured liquids would deter them from using vaping products to help them quit or reduce their smoking. It could also push current vapers towards illicit products… A ban on flavoured liquids could have adverse effects and unintended consequences for smokers using vaping products to quit.” [Ann McNeill (UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies), Linda Bauld (University of Stirling) et al; Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2020, 4 March 2020].
International – “EC liquid flavourings play a major role in the overall experience of dedicated users and support the hypothesis that they are important contributors in reducing or eliminating smoking consumption.” [Farsalinos, K., et al. (2013). Impact of Flavour Variability on Electronic Cigarette Use Experience: An Internet Survey. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 10, no.12: 7272-282. doi:10.3390/ijerph10127272].
International – The World Health Organisation (WHO) has acknowledged that “[f]lavours also seem to play a role among adults and experienced ENDS [electronic nicotine delivery systems]/ENNDS [electronic non-nicotine delivery systems] users in helping migration away from tobacco”. [FCTC/COP/7/11, WHO (2016), Electronic nicotine delivery systems and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS)].
USA – In 2020 a study using survey data from the US Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study showed that flavoured e-cigarettes were not associated with greater youth smoking initiation and that flavoured e-cigarettes were associated with greater adult smoking cessation. [Friedman AS, Xu S. June 2020, Associations of flavored e-cigarette uptake with subsequent smoking initiation and cessation JAMA Network Open. 2020;3(6):e203826. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.3826].
USA – One study analysing the self-reported impact of flavour descriptors on non-smoking teens’ and adult smokers’ interest in electronic cigarettes concluded that flavours are not a determinative factor in youth initiation of e-cigarettes. [Shiffman S., et al. (2015). The impact of flavor descriptors on nonsmoking teens’ and adult smokers’ interest in electronic cigarettes. Nicotine & Tobacco Research 17 (10): 1255-262].
USA – A Yale School of Public Health (USA) study concluded that San Francisco’s ban on sales of flavoured vapour and tobacco products, which came into effect in July 2018, was associated with increased smoking among minor high school students. A Difference-in-Differences Analysis of Youth Smoking and a Ban on Sales of Flavored Tobacco Products in San Francisco, California, 24 May 2021].