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Home>What a ban on e-cigarette flavors could mean for smokers

What a ban on e-cigarette flavors could mean for smokers

What a ban on e-cigarette flavors could mean for smokers

10/02/2017

By Alessandra Malito, MarketWatch

There are 7,000 flavors available for e-cigarettes, but all but one are banned for traditional cigarettes

E-cigarettes come in more than 7,000 flavors. By comparison, traditional cigarettes only come in one of those -- menthol. What would happen if regulators were to ban flavors in e-cigarettes?

-- If the Food and Drug Administration banned the flavors in e-cigarettes but allowed them in traditional, or combustible, cigarettes, e-cigarette use would decline by more than 10%

-- If menthol in traditional cigarettes were banned, there would be a 4.8% reduction and most smokers would shift to e-cigarettes, while others said they would quit smoking altogether

-- Banning e-cigarette flavors could turn smokers toward traditional cigarettes, an adverse public health effect given that their use has been shown to cause cancer (https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/basic_info/risk_factors.htm)

That's according to new research (http://www.nber.org/papers/w23865?utm_campaign=ntw&utm_medium=email&utm_source=ntw) by from Yale School of Public Health and the Centre for Health Policy at the Imperial College in London, and distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research. They conducted an experiment with more than 2,000 adult smokers and recent quitters. "Our results are timely and policy-relevant, suggesting which flavor bans are likely to be most effective in protecting public health," the researchers wrote.

Also see:Americans in this state are the biggest users of e-cigarettes (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/americans-in-this-state-are-the-biggest-vapers-2017-07-05)

What are the effects of e-cigarettes on smokers?

E-cigarettes are considered less harmful than traditional cigarettes, though there are still risks associated with them. They have less nicotine (about 5% the amount of a traditional cigarette), but could still lead to addiction, mood swings and lack of attention, according to the U.S. Surgeon General (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/e-cigarettes-pose-major-risks-surgeon-generals-report-warns-2016-12-08). In May 2016, the FDA requested a ban on e-cigarette flavors until it could review their impact, but the White House Office of Management and Budget denied it.

See also: Are e-cigarettes a healthy way to quit smoking? (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/are-e-cigarettes-a-healthy-way-to-quit-smoking-2016-04-30)

Who are the people smoking e-cigarettes?

Still, young smokers may be attracted to flavored e-cigarettes, which could become a gateway to traditional cigarettes (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/are-e-cigarettes-a-gateway-drug-for-children-2014-04-16).That's one reason they're being looked at closely by regulators. In some instances, an increase in e-cigarette laws has pushed young people to smoke traditional cigarettes, because they're unable to obtain electronic ones (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/e-cigarette-laws-make-more-young-people-smoke-actual-cigarettes-2017-04-10). Most states have a minimum age of 18 for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, but in some localities, it is 21. Beginning in 2010, when states began instating e-cigarette laws, youth participation in traditional cigarette smoking jumped 1.4 percentage points, up from 0.7, according to another research report.

What is the current regulation for e-cigarettes?

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration announced a proposal (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cigarette-maker-stocks-plunge-on-fda-announcement-but-health-experts-are-skeptical-2017-07-28) to lower nicotine levels to non-addictive levels in traditional cigarettes and examine the effect of flavors, including menthol, on attracting smokers to such tobacco products. Some cities already have bans on flavors for e-cigarettes and combustibles, including Berkeley, Calif., Chicago, New York, Boston and Minneapolis.

-Alessandra Malito; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

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10-02-17 1313ET

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