Rockland County Times
Candy E-Liquid Flavors: Alluring to Youth, ‘Gateway’ to Smoking?
Cotton candy. Banana pudding. Very berry crunch. Some e-liquid flavors just can’t help but sound sweet, friendly and alluring to youth. Not only do these flavors make vaping appear delicious, but research has also shown young people who pick up vaping have a greater chance of eventually picking up cigarettes.
This is unwelcome news in the vaping industry for several reasons. One is the fact that vaping can be viewed as an ideal alternative to smoking – not as a pathway for people to get into smoking. Another is the fact that some companies still continue to churn out flavors with tastes and names that can’t help but pique many young people’s interest.
Youth Attracted to Friendly Flavors
Even if e-liquid companies don’t intentionally set out to attract the younger generation with their e-liquid flavors, it is evidently happening. Statistics from 2014 show 13.4 percent of U.S. high school students used e-cigarettes, three times the amount than the previous year. Middle school student vaping rates had increased over the same time period from 1.1 to 3.9 percent.
More recent stats from 2016 did show a decline in vaping among teens. But the decline still left 2.2 million high school and middle school students using e-cigarettes.
To make matters even more disturbing, 66 percent of teens who used e-cigarettes actually thought the only ingredient in their e-liquid was flavoring.
What Teens Say is in Their E-Liquid
- 66 percent: “Just” flavoring
- 7 percent: Don’t know
- 2 percent: Nicotine
- 8 percent: Marijuana
- 3 percent: Other
The FDA has since created regulations that require e-liquid manufacturers list the ingredients of each e-liquid, which can at least clarify what e-liquids contain – if teens read the labels, of course.
Vaping Makes Teen Smoking More Likely
Whether or not young people are aware e-liquids contain nicotine, the nicotine addiction could be playing a role in another statistic. Teens who vape or use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking cigarettes or other combustible tobacco products, such as cigars or hookahs.
About 30 percent of teens who use e-cigarettes start smoking within six months, compared to the 8 percent of teens who start smoking without first using e-cigarettes.
What E-Liquid Manufacturers Can Do
While the FDA has a lengthy to-do list that includes addressing the issue of kid-appealing e-liquid flavors, manufacturers don’t have to wait for official regulations to do their part to help deter teen vaping. In fact, some manufacturers, like Black Note, avoided the issue from the get-go, positioning themselves ahead of the pack. Black Note is founded on the principle of appealing only to adult smokers looking for an alternative to traditional smoking. No one else.
Black Note tobacco e-liquid may come in different blends, but all are sophisticated tobacco e-liquid flavors – nothing that would typically appeal to kids looking for sweet, fruity or candy taste. Other e-liquid manufacturers can follow suit, creating tobacco e-liquid flavors meant to appeal to adult smokers. At the very least, they can carefully consider the types and names of e-liquid flavors they have on the market.
Companies can additionally review their website design and other elements of their online presence, steering clear of colors, fonts and images that may specifically appeal to the younger audience.
Vaping and e-cigarettes have already made a strong impact in the world of smoking, and they can continue to contribute on a positive note. But that contribution must not include targeting young people and increasing their likelihood of picking up traditional cigarettes, which is the direct opposite of what conscientious vaping companies are striving to do.