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Sweet E-Liquid Can Flavors Help Smokers Quit, New Study Finds

Fruit, dessert and other sweet e-liquid flavors can help tobacco cigarette smokers quit. At least that is the conclusion of a scientific study that looked at the relationship between various flavors and smoking cessation.

Titled How does the use of flavored nicotine vaping products relate to progression towards quitting smoking? Findings from the 2016 and 2018 ITC 4CV Surveys“, the study was conducted by an international team of researchers and was recently published in the Nicotine & Tobacco Research journal. To reach their conclusions, the authors analyzed data from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Smoking and Vaping (4CV) survey, conducted in the United States, the UK, Canada and Australia, from 2016 to 2018.

The study followed the progress of 886 dual-users (electronic cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes), who were first surveyed in 2016 and then successfully recontacted in 2018. Participants were asked about their main e-liquid flavors, categorized as a) tobacco or unflavored, b) menthol or mind, c) sweet flavors (candy, desserts, fruits, etc.). Based on the answers, researchers tried to establish a connection between the types of flavors used and smoking cessation.

Of the 886 dual-users surveyed at baseline (2016), 11.1 percent had managed to successfully quit smoking by the 2018 follow-up. Data analysis also showed that users of sweet e-liquid flavors were more likely to quit smoking, compared to the dual-users who mainly vaped tobacco or unflavored e-liquids (13.8% vs. 9.6%). Interestingly, participants who preferred mint or menthol flavors were the least likely to quit (8.3% vs. 9.6% vs. 13.8).

Researchers also found that 52 percent of the dual-users who had quit smoking in 2018 were still vaping, which was was lower than the 65.8% who continued to smoke at follow-up.

“Sweet flavor users were no more likely to continue vaping compared to tobacco flavor users, either for those continuing smoking or those having quit smoking by 2018,” the authors wrote.

The study concluded that the use of fruit, dessert and other sweet e-liquid flavors are “positively related” to successful smoking cessation, with the authors noting that clinical trials are needed to establish if the observed association is truly causal, or a result of self-selection.

“With multiple jurisdictions considering limiting or banning the sale of flavored NVPs (nicotine vaping products), it is important to consider how such policies may impact smokers using NVPs to transition away from cigarette smoking,” the authors wrote. “Our results indicate that vapers who used sweet flavors were more likely to transition away from cigarette smoking and quit cigarette use, at least in the short term, compared to those who used tobacco or unflavored NVPs.”

The study was coordinated by Lin Li of the University of Melbourne in Australia, with the team including other well-known names in vaping research, including Ron Borland, also of the University of Melbourne and Michael Cummings of the Medical University of South Carolina.

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