What Changing Regulations Around E-Liquid Flavours Mean for the Future of Vaping
Recent bans on flavoured e-liquids in countries like Finland and Hungary have many vape enthusiasts in the UK worried that the same could soon happen here.
There’s some precedent for these fears—in fact, a story broke as late as August of last year that health officials were looking at banning flavoured e-cigarettes across the country, and several regulations have been introduced over the past few years that change the way vaping products can be used and sold.
But why are so many governments up in arms about flavoured vape juices, and is there any credibility behind their fears?
Moreover, how will these regulations affect the future of vaping—and what should you know if you want to enjoy your vape device without breaking them?
Why Are Flavoured E-Juices Being Banned around the World?
Before we can start to speculate on the future of vaping, we need to look at what’s happening right now. Let’s examine the reasons why flavoured e-juices are being banned in an increasing number of countries.
Over 30 countries around the world have banned the sale of e-cigarettes to consumers entirely, and 6 of the countries that do allow them to be sold have national bans on flavoured e-liquids.
Additionally, the United States and Canada have state or provincial laws prohibiting the sale of flavoured e-liquids in many regions—but why?
Concerns Over Young People
Start looking for reasons behind the recent spate of bans on flavoured e-liquids, and you find the same thing around the world—lobbyists and lawmakers seem worried that flavoured vape juices will attract kids to vaping and do little to wean existing adult smokers off.
For example, Health Canada has commented that flavoured e-liquids have contributed to a rise in youth vaping and that they believe banning them will “protect young persons from inducements to use vaping products”.
Other public figures abroad and at home, from Donald Trump in the US to England’s chief medical officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies, have expressed similar worries.
Canadian vape store owner Chris Fournier doesn’t buy this argument.
“People have used the ‘think of the children argument’ as a NIMBY tactic for eons. Look at cannabis: prior to legalization in Canada, opinion articles about attracting young Canadians to marijuana were everywhere. In reality, youth cannabis use has declined since cannabis legalization. Between responsible parenting, education, and enforcement at the retail level, it’s clear that the hyperbole surrounding this issue is overblown.”
Questionable Usefulness as a Smoking Cessation Aid
Proponents of vaping – ourselves included – argue that flavoured e-juice helps e-cigarettes and vapes attract more adult users who are looking to quit smoking. The flavours make vaping a more approachable and attractive alternative to tobacco or menthol-flavoured e-juice.
That vapes are an effective tool to quit smoking isn’t the argument. After all, governments all over the world agree that vapes are an effective way to get smokers to kick cigarettes. But the contention lies with flavoured e-juice and whether or not its existence is necessary to help smokers quit cigarettes.
Many people fear that flavoured juices accomplish the opposite, instead luring people (both current smokers and non-smokers) into vaping. They argue that flavours undermine a vape’s effectiveness and promote users to vape more than when they smoked.
But fear isn’t the same as data. Do the naysayers have any info to back up these claims?
Are Flavoured E-Liquids Worse For You than Tobacco or Menthol?
According to Public Health England (PHE), the answer is no—instead, they state that flavoured e-liquids help adult smokers make the switch to e-cigarettes, which possess fewer health risks.
Furthermore, they point out that many stories involving serious adverse reactions to vaping occur in the United States, where vape juices are regulated far less tightly.
Many brands, both home and abroad, focus heavily on flavours. Canadian brand STLTH’s e-juice/pod ecosystem is heavily flavoured, but the company takes measures to keep its e-liquids from being compromised. For example, STLTH uses closed pods to prevent their e-liquids from being altered in ways that could potentially be unsafe for users after purchase.
Of course, it’s not as though there are no health risks associated with vaping—and not all e-liquids are created equal. Some research suggests that the additives in certain flavoured e-liquids can impact the growth of important bacteria in the mouth, causing a “potential risk to the health of the oral cavity”.
It may not sound terribly conclusive, but findings like these are what have certain legislators and special interest groups worried. As such, it looks as though attempts to ban flavoured e-liquids are probably not going to stop in the immediate future.
How Will These Changes Shape the Future of E-Cigs & Vaping?
If you’ve just read the above and are starting to worry that vaping might soon be made illegal, don’t. People have been trying to make cigarettes illegal for decades, and how successful has that been?
Take it from public health officials themselves. In the US, the FDA’s Kathleen Hoke has gone on record to say she doesn’t anticipate an attempt to ban all vape products. And here at home, the National Health Service still touts the benefits of e-cigarettes to help people quit smoking—even citing one study that found them twice as effective as other nicotine replacement products when combined with face-to-face support.
So what could happen?
We’ve already discussed the possibility of a ban on flavoured e-liquids, but there’s another possibility as well: that the government could simply tax the sale of these products aggressively.
However, that may not be in their best interests—data from taxing tobacco in recent years shows that while it helps compensate for the public healthcare costs of smokers, it doesn’t fully make up for these expenses.
The smarter move here would probably be to keep allowing products that help people stop smoking to be sold. Assuming PHE is correct, flavoured e-liquids could actually reduce the impact of smokers on the public healthcare system, lowering costs more effectively than trying to make up for them with new taxes would.
The question is, will lawmakers pursue a common sense solution or attempt a grand (and perhaps less effective) gesture to appease an agitated electorate? We’ll have to wait and see.