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.
Abstract Introduction E-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. Aims and Methods An online, national survey of young adults ages 18–34 who use flavored e-cigarettes was conducted in 2021 (n = 1253), 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. Results The 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 versus 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 versus dual use would use combustible tobacco. Quitting all tobacco products was endorsed by 34.5% and 17.2% of those who exclusively vape versus dual use. Conclusions Young 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. Implications This 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-cigarette 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.