Study: Adults Prefer Sweet Vapes Over Tobacco Flavors

Federal regulators are gearing up to restrict vaping flavors, possibly limiting available product choices to tobacco flavors. But new research shows that regular vapers who have quit or reduced smoking prefer non-tobacco flavors.

A study from U.K. researchers at the Centre for Substance Use Research (CSUR) uses 2016 survey data from over 20,000 frequent vapers to show patterns of flavor preferences among American vapers. The study was led by Dr. Christopher Russell, who has led several studies on vaping in the past.

The researchers sent survey invitations to members of four consumer and trade vaping organizations: Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA), Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA), the American Vaping Association (AVA), and Not Blowing Smoke (NBS). Links to the survey were also posted on social media and in forums like ECF and Planet of the Vapes. After eliminating participants from outside the U.S. and duplicate responses (same email or IP address), the researchers were left with 20,836 usable surveys.

Even dual users — current vapers who were also still smoking — were not lovers of tobacco flavors.

Russell and his team separated the survey participants into six categories. The largest by far (75.9%) was “switchers” — regular smokers who had quit cigarettes and were frequent vapers. The next largest group (11.9%), “Former-smoker e-cigarette users” consists of vapers who had already quit smoking, then adopted vaping.

Unlike the general population of people who use e-cigarettes, only about 7% of the survey participants were “dual users” of cigarettes and vapes. The majority of vapers who responded to this survey aren’t representative of vapers at large, most of whom still smoke cigarettes too. These are mostly ex-smokers who have successfully left cigarettes behind.

The value of surveying a group that consists mostly of full-time vapers who have quit smoking completely is that regular vapers’ flavor choices may suggest strategies that can help other smokers switch completely to vaping. It’s also a study that can be used in our comments on the FDA’s flavors rule.


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