Vape flavour ban could drive most ex-smokers back to cigarettes

We recently conducted a survey among 1,134 of our customers, to help us demonstrate the important role that vape flavours play in helping with smoking cessation, as we urge the Government to reconsider its proposed vape flavour bans,

We feel that the consequences for adult vapers and smokers deserves to be recognised, along with the negative impact that such a ban could have on smoking rates in the UK, and by conducting this survey we hope to give a voice to the individual vapers who’s stop smoking journey could be impacted most.

What are the proposed vape flavour bans?
On 20 March 2024 the Government introduced their Tobacco and Vapes Bill to Parliament, which seeks new powers to be able to regulate vaping products. This comes following a call for evidence and open consultation at the end of last year, with the aim of identifying ways to make vaping products less appealing and accessible to young people

One of the more drastic proposals made for these new regulations is the restriction of vaping flavours, which would prohibit the sale of certain vape flavours which are deemed to be appealing to children, like fruits and desserts.

While the full scope of these restrictions is not yet known, there is still time for amendments to be made and further consultation will allow us to exhibit the negative impact that such a ban could have.

71% of over 45s use fruit and dessert vape flavours
Although the Government claimed in their response to a recent petition against vape flavour bans that they “will be mindful of the role flavours can play in helping adult smokers to quit”, their continued support of such drastic action is concerning.

Our survey revealed that, contrary perhaps to public perception, 71% of people over the age of 45 vape fruit and dessert flavours. This suggests that, despite the ban and restrictions being proposed to protect the youth, the ramifications will be much more far reaching.

There is bound to be a lot of crossover between the flavours that are appealing to children, and the flavours that are appealing to adults. While most people start vaping as a stop smoking aid, many will quickly realise that they didn’t smoke because they enjoy the taste of tobacco, but because they have a nicotine addiction. Our research indicates that only 7.7% of our customers normally opt for tobacco flavours, and only 9.6% for menthols, the remaining 82.6% prefer to use flavours like fruits, desserts, sweets, and beverages.

75% of our customers have successfully quit smoking
As part of the survey we also looked into the use of e-cigarettes as an aid in smoking cessation, finding that that vast majority (88%) of respondents were smokers before making the switch to vaping, emphasising vaping's role in their journey towards becoming smokefree.

93% of those who were smokers have either quit smoking completely or reduced their tobacco intake as a result of vaping, with an incredible 75% having quit smoking altogether.

Smoking rates have been steadily declining in the UK, now being at their lowest since records began, and there is a clear correlation between the increased popularity of vaping and the decrease in smoking prevalence. Queen Mary University London conducted a comprehensive survey into whether vaping is a gateway into smoking, and actually concluded that vaping is helping to speed up the demise of traditional cigarettes.

Almost two thirds of ex-smokers at risk of returning to tobacco
Vaping is not only the most popular stop smoking aid, but it is also the most effective. The Cochrane review found that e-cigarettes are twice as effective for long-term smoking cessation than nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) like nicotine patches and gum. Additionally, when compared to pharmacological options like varenicline and cystine, e-cigarettes were just as effective, if not slightly more so. This means that e-cigarettes, which are widely accessible for adult smokers, are just as effective as the stop smoking medications that are only available via a prescription.

However, when asked about how a flavour ban would affect their future use of vapes, almost two-thirds of respondents revealed they are at risk of going back to smoking if flavours are banned. Alarmingly, 31% indicate they are likely to resume or increase smoking if their preferred vape flavours were banned or restricted, with an additional 30% considering it somewhat likely.

Furthermore, a resounding 81% believe that flavour restrictions would negatively impact individuals trying to switch from smoking to vaping. This is extremely worrying considering that the Government has an aim for England to be smokefree by 2030, meaning smoking rates drop to or below 5%. With this deadline drawing ever nearer, we question whether putting so many people’s smokefree status in jeopardy can be considered the best course of action.

It is our belief that the results of this survey demonstrate the essential role that a diverse range of flavour options plays in supporting adults to quit smoking. The data underscores the unintended consequences that flavour bans could have on public health, potentially driving former smokers back to tobacco, as well as benefiting the already flourishing illicit market.

Andrej Kuttruf, CEO of Evapo, commented:

''We recognise the Government's concerns regarding youth vaping and are committed to responsible practices that protect minors. However, it's crucial that these proposed measures do not inadvertently hinder adults' access to safer alternatives to tobacco.

Our survey clearly shows that a vast majority of vapers rely on a variety of flavours to remain smoke-free. We urge policymakers to consider these insights as they debate the upcoming Tobacco & Vapes Bill and to incorporate Public Health England’s view that vaping is 95% less harmful than tobacco.

Evapo will continue to call for a common-sense, evidence-based licensing regime that will protect children, help smokers quit, and stop the criminals, without compromising the progress and health benefits experienced by adult smokers who have chosen vaping as a pathway to quit smoking. Evapo remains dedicated to contributing positively to the community's well-being and to the global movement towards a smoke-free future.''

Survey methodology
The survey conducted by Evapo aimed to understand the impact of potential flavour bans on vaping habits and smoking cessation efforts. This comprehensive survey was administered online, targeting Evapo's customer base, and received responses from 1,134 participants. It covered a range of questions from demographic data, previous smoking habits, current vaping preferences, to the potential impact of government regulations on their vaping choices. The methodology ensured a broad representation of vapers, including those who had smoked before and those who had not, to gauge the reliance on flavoured e-liquids and the possible consequences of regulatory changes on their smoking and vaping behaviour. The data collection process was designed to be inclusive and anonymous, encouraging honest and unfiltered feedback from the vaping community.