Beamsville, ON, June 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Lung Association of Nova Scotia and Smoke-Free Nova Scotia, with funding from Heart and Stroke, released the report “The 2020-2021 Youth and Young Adult Vaping Project.” The study claims that the results of the survey are evidence to support policy changes including a flavour ban, taxation, stronger enforcement of sales regulations, increasing the minimum legal age, and increasing awareness of the potential for vaping to translate into cigarette smoking.
The report aims to address youth uptake and claims that its survey data is evidence to support the need for Canada to adopt its policy recommendations. Throughout the analysis of the survey data and policy recommendations, there is an established pattern of withholding relevant information to substantiate the reports recommendations.
The report uses dated data to support the false claim that youth vaping rates continue to rise, while the current data finding a steep decline in youth vaping rates is completely omitted. Additionally, the survey did not ask youth in Nova Scotia questions pertaining to flavours. At the time of the survey, Nova Scotia had implemented a ban on flavoured products. If researchers believed that the ban on flavours had been effective in reducing youth use and the results may have skewed the national data, the findings should have been collected and reported as two figures – one inclusive of the findings in Nova Scotia and a second excluding Nova Scotia with an explanation as to why. It is curious that the report chose not to collect this data and that no study has been conducted on youth vaping or flavour use in Nova Scotia since the flavour ban.
Despite there being no data to suggest Nova Scotia’s flavour ban has been effective at curbing youth use, the report proposes a flavour ban as the only solution to address youth vaping. Adults were not the focus of the survey, but without any context as to how the youth data compares to the adult population, it misleads its audience to believe youth prefer flavours to a greater extent than adults. Market research and industry sales data indicate that flavour use is comparable among youth and adults. About 90% of adults use a flavoured product. If flavours were banned, a percentage of youth may stop vaping, but this is also true for adults. Most adult vapers are former smokers, and a flavour ban will push many vapers back to smoking. The policy recommendations within the report are solely focused on youth prevention with no consideration for the health and lives of adult smokers.
Moreover, the reports own findings do not support its recommendation of a flavour ban. The survey found that the strongest influence to start vaping for the whole sample were peers, followed by the desire to quit smoking and social media exposure. Interestingly, the second greatest influence to start vaping was to use the product as intended – to quit smoking. The survey finds that the majority of users surveyed were former tobacco users (64%). This indicates that, while measures to protect youth may be warranted, vaping has reduced harm and, in most cases, transitioned combustible tobacco use to a less harmful nicotine delivery system.
“There are many examples of carefully curated supporting research within the survey discussion. While misleading, none of these examples are as egregious as the reports claim that the United Kingdom has restricted flavours. The UK has taken no action to ban or restrict flavoured vape products. Certain additives have been restricted, but the UK has implemented no restrictions on flavours. Public Health England is so confident in vaping’s relative risk and efficacy that it has run many campaigns encouraging smokers to switch to vaping and have even opened vape stores within the country’s hospitals. Whether the researchers are misinformed or knowingly included false information to persuade legislators, this oversight should call the legitimacy of the survey’s findings into question,” said Darryl Tempest, Executive Director of the CVA.
A full review of the survey can be found here.