A reduction in vape sales could only be considered a victory in the case of proof that it did not equate to an increase in cigarette sales.
The CDC analysis of the three states found that statewide restrictions on non–tobacco-flavored sales were associated with reductions of 25.01% to 31.26% in total unit sales, compared with total sales in states without restrictions. These figures led to the hasty assumption and conclusion that the reduction in total sales must also equate to a decrease in teen vaping rates.

The conclusion of this study is however flawed for several reasons, highlights the Canadian Vaping Association (CVA). Firstly it mentioned that the study failed to prove in any way that this decrease in smoking rates took place amongst teens. “First, the study acknowledges that it did not have the ability to assess the age of purchasers. The most common way for youth to access these products is through social sourcing. Even if the age of the purchasers could be verified, a reduction in youth vaping could only be determined through additional studies.”

Most importantly added the CVA, even if this reduction in sales happened amongst teens, it could only be considered a victory in the case of proof that it did not equate to an increase in cigarette sales. “Moreover, reducing vape use is not a victory when the outcome was likely former smokers either returning to smoking or turning to the potentially dangerous black market.”

The CVA went on to refer to a thorough study conducted in San Francisco. Published in JAMA Pediatrics, the study found that following San Francisco’s flavour ban, teenagers in the city’s high schools were more likely to take up smoking than teenagers in US school districts where no flavour bans were imposed. While prior to the ban, smoking rates in San Francisco were similar to that of many cities across the country.

“To understand this conceptually, think about youth preferences between tobacco products,” said study author Abigail Friedman, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Yale School of Public Health, in a statement. “Among youths who vape, some likely prefer ENDS to combustible products because of the flavors.”

“For these individuals as well as would-be vapers with similar preferences, banning flavors may remove their primary motivation for choosing vaping over smoking,” she continued. “Thus, some of them will respond to a ban on flavors by choosing to use combustible products instead of ENDS.”

Teen vaping is a complex issue

Darryl Tempest, Government Relations Council to the CVA Board, said that teen vaping is not an issue which can be studied at face value. “Vaping regulation is a complex issue. The problem with taking a micro view to regulation and forming policy based on individual studies, is the bigger picture is neglected. If we take this study at face value and assume the conclusion is accurate and less youth are vaping, on the surface it seems like this type of regulation is logical. Yet, we know from reviewing the full scope of evidence that flavour restrictions result in smoking related illness and death.”

Focus on Teen Vaping Prevention is Negatively Affecting Adult Smoking Cessation Efforts

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