A new study shows that users of flavoured e-cigarettes — vapour devices — prefer having the flavours so much that if the flavour choice was taken away from them, many would just go back to smoking conventional cigarettes.
This is based in part on a study conducted by the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project at Ontario's University of Waterloo.
The study examined whether regular vapers from Canada, England and the United States who only use non-tobacco flavoured e-cigarettes would support or oppose a ban on all non-tobacco flavours and also, how they would potentially respond to such a policy.
Health Canada is proposing a ban on flavoured vapours provided for vape device users. Health Canada's rationale is that the flavours make vaping attractive to young people which is not good because the flavoured vapes still contain small amounts of nicotine.
The ITC study showed that vapers would continue to find ways to get their flavours even if there was a ban. About one in five said they would stop using vapes and just go back to smoking cigarettes.
This concept was shared earlier this year by Sudbury businessman Arthur Cavallin, a vape shop owner, a former smoker and a regular vapour user.
Cavallin said the proposal to ban vaping flavours could just drive people back to conventional cigarettes. Cavallin told Sudbury.com that if people don't get what they want from vaping, which he believes is safer than smoking, then people might just go back to smoking.
"It's based on the simple fact that they (Health Canada) claims it is for our health, but look at the LCBO and the flavoured alcohol," he said.
Critics have pointed to the alcohol industry where dozens of new brands of juice-flavoured and pop-flavoured alcohol coolers are now on the market, yet nothing is done to curb it.
Cavallin said if people cannot get their flavour choices in vaping, it will contribute to two things, both of which are worse in his opinion. One is that it will drive people back to cigarette smoking and the other option is that it will create a black market for flavoured vapes made in unknown labs with unknown chemicals. He added that any ban would only encourage the black market to expand and that in turn would allow more young people to get access to flavoured vapours.
That concern was echoed by one of the study's authors.
“Our findings raise the possibility that banning some flavoured vaping products may dissuade some adult smokers from vaping, with the possibility that they would return to smoking cigarettes, which are clearly much more harmful than vaping products, given that we know that at least half of regular smokers die of a smoking-caused disease,” said ITC research assistant professor Shannon Gravely, who was lead author of the study.