PITTSBURGH, Jan. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Nonsmoking teens show very low interest in using e-cigarettes, even when presented with a variety of flavors described as, for example, raspberry, bubble gum, gummy bear, and vanilla bean, according to a study published online in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research. Proponents of e-cigarettes have argued that, because e-cigarettes are much less hazardous than traditional combustible tobacco cigarettes, use of e-cigarettes by smokers could greatly reduce the health harms due to smoking. However, some have worried that e-cigarettes might attract teens who do not smoke, especially if e-cigarettes were offered in appealing flavors.
"Concerns about initiation of e-cigarette use by nonsmoking teens have focused on the expected and assumed appeal of flavors. It is important to replace assumptions with data. Our study shows that flavor descriptors, even those expected to appeal to youth, do not do so," said Saul Shiffman, PhD, of PinneyAssociates, and professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. "This is reassuring because nonsmoking teens would gain no health benefit from using e-cigarettes, since they don't smoke. In contrast adult smokers could dramatically reduce health risks by switching from tobacco cigarette smoking to e-cigarette use."
Researchers surveyed 216 nonsmoking teens ages 13-17 and 432 adult smokers of combustible tobacco cigarettes about their interest in a range of potential e-cigarette flavors.
Asked on a scale of 0-10 about interest in using e-cigarettes, offered in a list of flavors, teens reported minimal interest (mean=0.41+/-0.14 SE), and teens' interest did not vary across flavors. "Flavors just didn't seem to matter to these nonsmoking teens," said Shiffman.
Among adult smokers of combustible tobacco cigarettes, interest in e-cigarette flavors was greatest among recent users of e-cigarettes (mean=3.19+/-0.21), followed by past users (mean=1.62+/-0.17) and never users (mean=1.08+/-0.15). Recent e-cigarette users indicated an interest in flavors such as vanilla bean, double espresso, and raspberry; none of which appealed to nonsmoking teens.
"For adult smokers of combustible tobacco cigarettes, switching completely to e-cigarettes should lead to substantial health benefits," commented Dr. Shiffman. "Knowledge about which flavors appeal most to adult smokers without appealing to nonsmoking teens presents an opportunity to greatly reduce health risks among adult smokers without increasing the risks for youth."
About the Survey
The study was supported by NJOY, a company that markets e-cigarettes and vaping products, but does not make or sell any combustion tobacco products.
All authors of the paper work for PinneyAssociates and have provided consulting services to NJOY on e-cigarettes and vaping products. NJOY was involved in discussion of the study design, but had no role in study execution, data collection, data analysis, or writing of the published manuscript. All decisions related to the study were made by the authors.