WASHINGTON—The Food and Drug Administration is enforcing a recently issued ban on the sale of sweet-flavored e-cigarette cartridges to keep them out of the hands of underage users, but adult users of flavored products are being left out in the cold, reports U.S. News.
According to a study by the Penn State College of Medicine, flavors are popular with adults as well as teens. "Many of the participants in our study indicated that they used e-cigarettes as a means to quit smoking or avoid relapse, and these flavors may be part of the reason why they end up using e-cigarettes in the long term," said lead author Dr. Ping Du, associate professor of medicine and public health sciences.
The researchers compared results of online surveys conducted among e-cigarette users between 2012 and 2014 and between 2017 and 2019, and the findings are based on responses from 383 respondents between ages 22 and 75. About 50% of respondents indicated they'd find a way to buy e-cig flavors even if they were banned from the U.S. market.
Study co-author Jonathan Foulds, professor of public health sciences, noted that most survey respondents used cartridge-based electronic cigarettes. Despite the federal ban on flavored cartridges, except for tobacco and menthol flavors, these users can continue to purchase flavored e-liquids in bottles and possibly get flavors through disposable vapes, he said.
"Unauthorized flavor additions or buying products off the streets is dangerous for personal health since we don't know what the chemicals are in those products," Du said in a Penn State news release. "We don't know what the long-term effects of this new policy will be, but the evidence we've collected says that adult, long-term e-cigarette users with a preference for sweeter flavors may face health risks trying to obtain or make their preferred flavors.”
Despite enforcement limitations, Du and Foulds said the restrictions might prevent nonusers from picking up the vaping habit. The study was recently published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.