Scientists Call Flavored E-cigarettes "gateway To Smoking" For Youth

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Scientists Call Flavored E-cigarettes "gateway To Smoking" For Youth
Scientists Call Flavored E-cigarettes "gateway To Smoking" For Youth

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Scientists call flavored e-cigarettes "gateway to smoking" for youth

The non-menthol flavors of e-cigarettes are appealing to young people and adults alike by stimulating interest in vaping, American scientists have found.

Scientists call flavored e-cigarettes "gateway to smoking" for youth
Scientists call flavored e-cigarettes "gateway to smoking" for youth

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Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found that the non-menthol flavors of e-cigarettes appeal to young people and adults alike, stimulating interest in vaping. The results of their work are published in the BMJ Open.

The study is a systematic review of all peer-reviewed scientific literature published until March 2018 (51 articles in total) on the patterns of e-cigarette use and how people perceive them. Scientists have found:

non-menthol flavors, especially fruit and candy flavors, reduce the perceived harm of e-cigarettes (5 studies);

  • aromas increase the willingness of young people to try or start using e-cigarettes (6 studies);
  • flavors make e-cigarettes more attractive to adults (7 studies);
  • flavors are the leading cause of adult vaping (5 studies);
  • the role of flavored e-cigarettes in smoking cessation in adults is unclear (6 studies). Young people who use flavored e-cigarettes are less likely to quit smoking (1 study).

“The consistent data show that fragrances are pushing young people and adults to use e-cigarettes. We believe that banning non-menthol flavors in e-cigarettes will help reduce the epidemic of e-cigarette use among young people,”said Adam Goldstein, one of the study's authors.

There are about 7,000 e-cigarette flavors, with many of them sounding “delicious” - blueberry cheesecake, mango, cinnamon, sweet milk, lemon crumb roll, gummy bear, cream biscuits and cotton candy.

Research over the past five years has shown a steady increase in vaping among young people. So, according to 2019 data, about 28% of young Americans now use e-cigarettes. In Russia this figure is even higher - 33% of respondents aged 18 to 29 years.

“E-cigarettes among young people may be the gateway to future cigarette smoking, and nicotine is especially harmful to the developing brains of adolescents. These facts, along with biomedical research linking vaping to multiple adverse health effects, make the recent surge in e-cigarette use by young people particularly worrying,”said Hannah Baker, co-author of the study.

The new review significantly expands on earlier findings about e-cigarettes and flavorings. A previous review provided initial evidence that scents were the main reasons for wanting to try or use vaping. The current systematic review includes new longitudinal data and complements the evidence regarding the significant role of flavors in e-cigarettes, especially for young people.

In terms of control, limiting children's access to flavored tobacco products - e-cigarettes, smokeless (snuff and chewing) tobacco and cigars - is effective, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Scientists have compared two cities in Massachusetts. In 2016, Lowell restricted the sale of flavored tobacco products in retail tobacco stores to people under the age of 21. Malden, a city with a similar demographic 30 miles from Lowell, had no such restrictions.

The study found that just 6 months after the law went into effect, Lowell saw a significant decline in both the number of flavored products sold per retailer and the use of all tobacco products by adolescents, not just flavored ones. In Malden, the use of flavored tobacco products has increased.

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