Titled, “The Impact of Banning Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems on Combustible Cigarette Sales: Evidence From US State-Level Policies,” the study looks at a period in 2019 when several US states had enacted short-term vape bans in response to an outbreak of EVALI.
The research team analyzed whether the state-level ENDS bans in Massachusetts, Washington, and Rhode Island, led to increased cigarette sales and found that this was indeed the case.
“Our results show that cigarette sales in ban states were higher than would have been observed otherwise in the post-ban period. A full ban on ENDS was associated with increased cigarette sales of 7.5% in Massachusetts (P < .01); banning non-tobacco flavored ENDS was associated with 4.6% (P < .1) higher-than-expected cigarette sales. We did not detect statistically significant impacts in halted states, and placebo tests, which randomly assigned control states as treatments, showed no difference in observed cigarette sales in the same period.”
Examining the change in vape product sales following state-level flavour bans
Meanwhile, a CDC analysis examining the change in vape product sales in Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington before and after flavour bans were set in place, failed to take into account differences in cigarette sales and led to flawed conclusions. The CDC analysis of the three states found that statewide restrictions on non–tobacco-flavoured sales were associated with reductions of 25.01% to 31.26% in total e-cig unit sales compared with total sales in states without restrictions.
The conclusion of this study is however flawed for several reasons, highlights the Canadian Vaping Association (CVA). Firstly the above figures led to the hasty assumption and conclusion that the reduction in total sales must have equated to a decrease in teen vaping rates. Moreover, 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, this reduction if vape sales could only be considered a victory in the case of proof that they did not take up smoking instead. “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.”