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Flavors Not to Blame for Teen Vaping

The CDC conducted a survey in 2019 and found that teens are not attracted to vaping because of flavored e-liquids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the results of the National Youth Tobacco Survey last week to little fanfare from mainstream media outlets. No surprise there..

Blame Curiosity

When asked what it was that attracted them to vaping, the majority of young adults answered it was simple curiosity. Flavored vapes or e-liquid was the answer of around 22% of respondents, which was about the same percentage of teens who said that they enjoyed vaping because they could do tricks.

The top four reasons young people gave for why they started vaping according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey:

“I was curious about them” (55.3%)

“Friend or family member used them” (30.8%)

“They are available in flavors, such as mint, candy, fruit or chocolate” (22.4%)

“I can use them to do tricks” (21.2%)

The Kids Are Alright, Parents Not So Much

Flavors and marketing practices making e-cigarettes sexy and fashionable were the two pillars that many parents, health experts, and government officials blamed for vaping skyrocketing among young people. Of course, none of these concerned groups bothered to ask young people why they vaped. They only projected their theories onto them.

Until now.

Too Little Too Late?

The release of the results of the NYTS come after:

The FDA imposed a partial ban on flavored vape cartridges excluding menthol and tobacco

Eight states – Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington – have proposed banning flavored cartridges

Three states – Rhode Island, Utah, Washington – have bans already in effect, while prohibitions in other states are currently fighting legal challenges

The New York State Supreme Court recently granted an injunction to prevent a proposed ban on flavored vapes from taking effect. Governor Cuomo said that he would introduce a bill in the state legislature to ban flavors anyway, citing “unscrupulous vaping companies” who “target” teens with flavors.

Despite the release of not one, but two, CDC studies – the other lays the blame for the EVALI outbreak squarely on Vitamin E acetate – that directly contradict the hysteria surrounding the last few months, not a peep has been made about this by the media. Elected officials, concerned parents groups, public health experts have also not commented on the CDC’s findings.


But, of course, all the interested stakeholders in the vaping debate would not comment on the CDC’s findings. Doing so would mean walking back all their now-defunct arguments about evil vaping companies trying to addict their kids to nicotine with flavors like cotton candy and bubblegum.

It seems strange that people believed only teenagers are attracted to flavorful things as if taste buds disappear as you get older. Isn’t it possible that adults also enjoy cotton candy and bubblegum? Or do grown-ups only eat or drink things that taste like tobacco and menthol?

Will Cooler Heads Prevail?

The three states that have flavor bans in effect do not say how long the bans will last. The CDC also reported that the cases of EVALI have dropped. The agency, though, is still cautioning young people and pregnant women from vaping.

Juul has already restricted the sale of all its flavor pods save for the menthol and tobacco flavors, so no word on when Mango and Creme Brulee will be back in the mix. While the FDA instituted a ban on all flavors, the act applies only to pre-filled cartridges, because apparently, the kids do not like open tank systems.

Much was made about how “flavors” were what attracted kids to vaping. It was spoken about as if it was a given. No one ever presented any evidence that this was the case, and now that there is evidence, no one is talking about it. The reasoning that flavored vape cartridges somehow “targeted” minors was always flawed, now we have the data to back it up.

But who knows if people will listen.

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