Changes in Flavor Preference in a Cohort of Long-Term Electronic Cigarette Users

Summary of Study

Bottom Line: This study examines changes in flavor use patterns in long-term e-cigarette users, and evaluates users’ anticipated reaction to possible FDA e-cigarette flavor regulatory scenarios. Flavor migration towards sweet flavors occurred in long-term e-cigarette users. Some established e-cigarette users felt that they would return to cigarette smoking if non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors were banned.

This study indicates rapidly shifting flavor use patterns in all demographic groups of long-term e-cigarette users. E-cigarette flavor preference migration occurred in all demographic groups: only 36-44% maintained a preference for their original flavor.

Preference for tobacco and menthol or mint decreased over time (40% baseline, 22% follow-up); preference for fruit remained stable (23% baseline and follow-up), but chocolate/candy or other sweets preference significantly increased (16% baseline, 29% follow-up) and other flavors increased slightly.

Migration to sweet flavors was more noticeable in younger adults (18-45 years); exclusive e-cigarette users more commonly preferred sweet flavors than poly-users (31% vs 19%).

The past-30-day flavor use indicated that the dominant flavor use shifted to fruit and chocolate/candy or other sweets in nearly 60% of the participants, while the use of tobacco, menthol or mint dropped to 26-28%. 

Over 75% of study participants reported having tried at least 10 different flavors and virtually all (98.2%) used two or more flavors on a regular basis.

Nearly 50% of the participants reported that they would “find a way” to buy their preferred flavor, or add flavoring agents themselves if non-tobacco flavors were banned.

If their preferred flavor or all the non-tobacco flavors were banned, very few participants anticipated that they would stop using e-cigarettes or use e-cigarettes less, but about 10% reported that “I would return to smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes."

These findings demonstrate that policymakers looking to increase smoking cessation should keep flavored e-cigarettes on the market. 

Read the full study here

Feature Charticle

Flavors Use At E-Cigarette Initiation And During the Past 30 Days

American Thoracic Society

Findings:

  • This study indicates rapidly shifting flavor use patterns in all demographic groups of long-term e-cigarette users.
  • Preference for tobacco and menthol or mint decreased over time (40% baseline, 22% follow-up); preference for fruit remained stable (23% baseline and follow-up), but chocolate/candy or other sweets preference significantly increased (16% baseline, 29% follow-up).
  • Some established e-cigarette users felt that they would return to cigarette smoking if non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors were banned.

Read the full study here