Flavored e-cigarettes remain a controversial topic with regulators planning or already implementing restrictions worldwide. In this study, we examined patterns of flavor use in e-cigarettes among a convenience sample of US adult vapers.
Participants aged ≥ 18 years who reported ever using an e-cigarette were included in the study (N = 69,233) and responded to an online questionnaire. Their smoking status was recorded as well as patterns of flavor use at e-cigarette use initiation, at the time of the survey and at the time of smoking cessation (for participants who used to smoke and were using e-cigarettes at the time of quitting).
The most popular flavors at e-cigarette use initiation were fruit (82.8%), followed by dessert/pastry/bakery (68.6%) and candy/chocolate/sweet (52.2%). Slightly higher prevalence of using fruit and dessert/pastry/bakery flavors was observed in those who never smoked compared to those who were currently and formerly smoking. Tobacco flavors were used by 20.8% of the participants and was by far the least prevalent among participants who never smoked. Similar patterns were observed with participants’ choices at the time of the survey, but tobacco flavor use was substantially reduced (7.7%). Only 2.1% reported tobacco as the single most often used flavor. The most prevalent flavor at the time of quitting smoking was again fruit (83.3%), followed by dessert/pastry/bakery (68.0%) and candy/chocolate/sweet (44.5%). These flavors were considered the most helpful for quitting smoking. Tobacco flavor use at the time of smoking cessation was reported by 15.0%, while 9.3% considered it helpful for quitting smoking.
Non-tobacco flavors were popular among the US adult vapers who participated in the study, and were popular choices at the time of quitting smoking for those who formerly smoked. Tobacco flavor use prevalence was low and was further reduced over time. Regulators should consider the flavor choice of adult consumers, especially those who quit smoking, when preparing legislation on flavored e-cigarettes.