Feb. 6 (UPI) -- The ban on flavored replaceable e-cigarette pods and cartridges takes effect Thursday. Whether it helps reduce teen vaping, however, remains to be seen.
The ban, announced in December, covers the mint- and fruit-flavored products research shows teens favor. Menthol and tobacco-flavored products remain legal.
Juul, the most widely used e-cigarette in the U.S., voluntarily pulled its flavors from the market in November. Young users may be moving to alternatives, though -- including refillable vapor devices, as well as disposable vape devices, such as Puff Bars and Stig. Both, and others like them, will remain available under the ban.
"I think the ban is a step in the right direction in terms of protecting youth, though we still have a long way to go," Jessica Barrington-Trimis, an assistant professor at the Institute for Addiction Science at the University of Southern California, told UPI.
The ban was put in place in spite of evidence suggesting e-cigarettes may help cigarette smokers quit. Debate about their efficacy in smoking cessation aside, experts say the appeal of flavored e-cigarettes among adolescents and teens is a more pressing public health issue.
An analysis of the Monitoring the Future study published in November revealed that e-cigarette use among teens had more than doubled between 2017 and 2019, with 27.5 percent of high school students and 10.5 percent of middle schoolers reporting current e-cigarette use.
In analyses of data from teen surveys, Barrington-Trimis and researchers at USC found teens preferred mango and mint flavored pods by significant margins. The studies suggest the flavors may have encouraged young people to use the products, as did heavy marketing in stores and on social media.
Although the ban includes several flavors favored by young vapers, others, such as menthol- and tobacco-flavored products, will remain available under the measure.
In addition, the ban only applies to specific types of vaping devices -- namely, the cartridge or pre-filled pod products manufactured by companies such as Juul. All other vaping devices will be left on the market.