It’s not about the flavors. Young people are not getting into vaping because of the attraction of e-cig and e-liquid flavors. In a combined National Institutes of Health and FDA vaping study, 418 individuals between 12 and 17 found that reducing the risk of smoking is the main reason that youth vape. Young people are not being attracted by the flavors as so many critics baselessly assume. Why do they assume that? Well they say that kids like fruit and dessert flavors so any product offering those flavors is marketing to youth. Very simplistic reasoning to be sure.
It is interesting to note that the FDA and NIH are not pro vaping by any means. Ultimately, the results of their study speak for themselves. It is likely that the researchers were surprised by the results. Perhaps the results will serve as an eye opener and bring regulators closer to a vital epiphany that vaping is an ally in the fight against tobacco harm and not an enemy.
This particular vaping study was a survey of 418 youths between 12 and 17 that had used a vapor product in the 30 days previous to taking the survey. I must make very clear that the conclusions we are discussing were not reached by either the FDA or NIH. Rather these conclusions were reached by by Pinney Associates, a pharmaceutical development company with a partnership to RJ Reynolds. Penney Associates has stated that the partnership with Reynolds was not a factor in their analysis. Penney Associates analyzed the survey data and made conclusions based on the data.
Other interests may look at the same data and offer a different conclusion. Bias in vaping studies is very much prevalent and researchers often manipulate survey data to derive a preferred conclusion. But in this case the results are pretty clear. Let’s give you the data and you can decide for yourself.
Youth Vaping Survey Results
To begin, 92% of the respondents indicated that flavors are an important aspect of their vaping. I am sure that number will be pounced on and used by anti-vaping special interests. In fact, it already has been. The Journal JAMA published a conclusion based on the same data and claimed that flavors are why youth vape. But that’s not the main reason those 92% of respondents said that they vape. Nope. 92% said that the main reason that they vape is harm reduction.
92% of teens between 12 and 17 who vape said harm reduction was their main motivation
This evaluation of data confirms a growing body of existing evidence that shows that flavors are not what is attracting teens to vaping. We are also seeing more and more that vaping is not attracting non-smokers to electronic cigarettes. Let’s talk about what we are seeing.
Teen smoking is at a generational low. The decline in recent years has been dramatic. It would not be very difficult to argue that vaping is having a net positive impact on reducing smoking rates in young people. As Gregory Conley of the American Vaping Association observes, harm reduction is the overall main reason for why people vape.
Different Results For Different Folks
If I ask you if price is important to you when choosing a restaurant you will probably say yes. If you also indicate that food quality his the most important factor well a researcher can now twist your response. A researcher who wants to prove price is the most important factor can say X number of people said price is why they choose a restaurant. Different people can use the same data to claim a desired result.
The JAMA article claiming to show that flavors are why youth vape has been thoroughly rebutted by Pinney Associates. Saul Shiffman, a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and a senior scientific advisor to Pinney Associates said “by not combining responses citing harm reduction, the earlier (JAMA) analysis overemphasized the comparative role of flavors in youth vaping decisions. Among the teens who said flavors were important, fully 92 percent also said harm reduction was their motive for vaping.”
Shiffman went on to say “Flavors play a role in youth experimentation with e-cigarettes, but this analysis underscores that the much lower harm of vaping compared to smoking cigarettes is a far more important factor.”
In the end, you can see how the results of a survey can be used. At the end of the day, we have 92% of the respondents that indicated that they enjoy flavors saying but that the number one reason that they vape is to reduce harm. And that is a piece of data that should speak for itself. I don’t think you need anyone interpreting that on your behalf.