San Francisco Flavor Ban Tied to More Teen Smoking

San Francisco Flavor Ban Tied to More Teen Smoking

Will banning flavored vapes lead to more smoking? That question has mostly been ignored by politicians eager to please the powerful tobacco control groups that insist flavor bans will put an end to youth vaping. Since late 2019, lawmakers in five states and many municipalities have passed flavor bans.

But new research should give legislators and regulators pause when considering laws and rules prohibiting flavored vapes. Such blunt tools may do more harm than good.

A study published this week in the journal JAMA Pediatrics shows that the first flavor ban in a major U.S. city was associated with increased teenage smoking compared to cities without flavor bans. The study is by Abigail Friedman, an assistant professor of health policy at the Yale School of Public Health.

In 2018, San Francisco became the first major city to ban flavored vaping products, and all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. The flavor ban was passed in 2017 by the city’s Board of Supervisors, but a successful signature-gathering campaign by tobacco and vaping companies postponed the law until a citywide vote could be held in 2018. Residents overwhelmingly upheld the ban, and it took effect in January 2019. (Later in 2019, San Francisco became the first big city to ban sales of all vaping products.)

After the ban was in place, according to Dr. Friedman, high school students under age 18 in the San Francisco school district were twice as likely to smoke cigarettes as students in districts without such a ban. The trend held even after adjusting for other tobacco policies like taxes.

The study used publicly available data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) between 2011 and 2019—surveys conducted in odd-numbered years by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Friedman studied high school students under 18 who had non-missing data for past 30-day smoking.

“These findings suggest a need for caution,” Friedman told Yale News. “While neither smoking cigarettes nor vaping nicotine are safe per se, the bulk of current evidence indicates substantially greater harms from smoking, which is responsible for nearly one in five adult deaths annually. Even if it is well-intentioned, a law that increases youth smoking could pose a threat to public health.”

Before the San Francisco flavor ban took effect, San Francisco and the cities she compared all had similar and declining rates of high school smoking. But in 2019, San Francisco’s teen smoking trend split from the other cities and began to climb while the others continued downward. (An earlier study showed a similar, but less robust, trend among young adults in San Francisco after the flavor ban.)

 

“Think about youth preferences: some kids who vape choose e-cigarettes over combustible tobacco products because of the flavors,” Friedman explained to Yale News. “For these individuals as well as would-be vapers with similar preferences, banning flavors may remove their primary motivation for choosing vaping over smoking, pushing some of them back toward conventional cigarettes.”

The results found in the research may not be “generalizable,” she writes—which means they might not apply in other localities—and they may change over time. The teens who began smoking could stop, or go back to vaping. Nevertheless, the study should make lawmakers cautious when considering the blunt tool of flavor prohibition.

Friedman also described her research in one of the most interesting presentations at this week’s U.S. E-Cigarette Summit.

“This evidence suggests that we should be wary of tackling vaping with broad, all-or-nothing policies like bans,” she told the conference. “Those regulations are essentially drills. You’re trying to get somewhere fast, but there’s not much room for precise adjustment, and you can cause a lot of damage if you overshoot your goal.”

Image courtesy JAMA Pediatrics, modified from Figure 1. Past-30-Day Smoking Trends Among High School Students Younger Than 18 Years.

 
Article Provided By:
Article Author: Jim McDonald
Previous article SBA Urges Another Year of Sales for PMTA-Submitted Products
Next article Voices of Vaping: Get The Word Out!

Comments

Louis Bourbon - June 16, 2021

I agree with Jorge. It is all about the money. Tobacco Settlement money is a significant part of most states revenue; in a few states it is among the largest sources.

If they cared about kids, they would not allow the Teachers’ Union to not teach. The damage done to our nations’ children far exceeds any damage vaping could do. Whatever the state does, e.g. rebuilding the classrooms, they always move the goalposts. I expect most already have 2nd jobs while continuing to be paid full time as Teachers.

I hope this email does not get censored as political. I do not mention any party, or important people making these decisions.

. Furthermore they would not require masks on 2 year Olds or across the b⁸oard vaccinations of children 12 or younger (of whom 17 died during the entire pandemic). Vaccinations have already caused over 4000 deaths, particularly dangerous to those with natural antibodies, the largest group being young people who were so asymptomatic they didn’t even realize they caught the disease.

John S. - June 9, 2021

Another huge fail for government lawmakers. Past history shows direct conflict with bans on anything. When lawmakers decided to end supersized portions because our youth was among the heaviest in the world it did absolutely nothing to address the porblems with severe obesity in the youth populations. Once again lawmakers are failing our young people and will continue to do so.

Jorge - June 9, 2021

That means they succeeded, secretly to them this is good news. Their real interest is to increase tobacco revenues. This nonsense they spew about youth health is a “smoke” screen.

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields