April 26, 2023

Flavors Increase Adolescents’ Willingness to Try Nicotine and Cannabis Vape Products

The use of vape products (e-cigarettes) to consume nicotine and cannabis (marijuana) has become a significant public health concern, especially use by adolescents.  A new study conducted by Benjamin Chaffee and colleagues at UCSF and the California Tobacco Control Program gives further evidence to suggest that having flavors in those vapes may increase adolescents’ willingness to try them, regardless of whether the vape contains nicotine or cannabis.

The study was part of the 2021-2022 California Teens Nicotine and Tobacco Project and was based on a statewide online survey of 2,342 adolescents aged 12-17. As part of a discrete choice experiment within the survey, teens were shown two hypothetical vape products and asked to select which one they would be willing to use (or neither) if offered by a best friend. The hypothetical products differed in their flavor, what they contained (nicotine, cannabis, or “just vapor”), and other characteristics.

The study found that flavors, notably candy/dessert, fruit, and fruit-ice combination flavors, were associated with greater willingness to try vape products, regardless of what the vape contained. Candy/dessert flavors, in particular, enhanced willingness to try among exclusive nicotine e-cigarette users, exclusive cannabis users, co-users of both, and non-users.

This study provides additional evidence that flavors encourage adolescent vaping and suggests that flavors in cannabis products may also enhance adolescent appeal, an area where more research is needed. Effective regulations to prohibit or remove access to flavored e-cigarettes, such as the recently implemented California ban on most flavored tobacco (Senate Bill 793, Chapter 34, Statutes of 2020) has the potential for substantial reductions in adolescent willingness to try and use these products.

For more information about this study, please see the published article: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36963159/


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