A researcher at Yale University said that flavor ban policies could force teens to smoke and use combustible cigarettes.

NEW HAVEN — A researcher at the School of Public Health at Yale University recently published a study that suggests that a prohibition on flavored vaping products may have led to increased smoking among youth in a large metropolitan jurisdiction.

The study, entitled “A Difference-in-Differences Analysis of Youth Smoking and a Ban on Sales of Flavored Tobacco Products in San Francisco, California,” was authored by Dr. Abigail Friedman, an assistant professor of public health at the School fo Public Health and the Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies.

Friedman is a well-respected academic and is one of the most prominent in tobacco harm reduction and control.

According to the study’s findings, the ban on flavored tobacco product sales implemented by the City and County of San Francisco, Calif., harmed the rates at which teens switched to smoking or other means of potentially more harmful nicotine delivery.

“San Francisco’s ban on flavored tobacco product sales was associated with increased smoking among minor high school students relative to other school districts,” states the conclusion of Friedman’s study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

“While the policy applied to all tobacco products, its outcome was likely greater for youths who vaped than those who smoked due to higher rates of flavored tobacco use among those who vaped.

“This raises concerns that reducing access to flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems may motivate youths who would otherwise vape to substitute smoking. Indeed, analyses of how minimum legal sales ages for electronic nicotine delivery systems are associated with youth smoking also suggest such substitution.”

“While neither smoking cigarettes nor vaping nicotine are safe per se, the bulk of current evidence indicates substantially greater harms from smoking, which is responsible for nearly one in five adult deaths annually,” Friedman told Yale News writer Michael Greenwood.

“Even if it is well-intentioned, a law that increases youth smoking could pose a threat to public health.”

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