The impact of a comprehensive tobacco product flavor ban in San Francisco among young adults

Addict Behav Rep. 2020 Apr 1:11:100273. doi: 10.1016/j.abrep.2020.100273. eCollection 2020 Jun.


Objective: Flavors play an important role in the initiation and use of tobacco products. The FDA, states, and cities have been implementing or considering banning flavored e-cigarettes or any flavored tobacco products. This study empirically assessed the impact of one of the first comprehensive bans of all flavored tobacco products other than tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes among young adults in San Francisco, California.

Methods: Using Amazon Mechanical Turk, a sample of San Francisco residents aged 18-34 who previously used tobacco products (N = 247) were surveyed about their tobacco use both before and after the ban. Descriptive statistics and regression models were applied.

Results: The prevalence of overall flavored tobacco use decreased from 81% and 85% to 69% and 76% for 18-24 years and 25-34 years old, respectively. The prevalence of flavored e-cigarettes decreased from 57% and 56% to 45% and 48% for 18-24 years and 25-34 years old, respectively. The prevalence of cigars uses reduced as well. However, cigarette smoking increased, although not statistically significant among 25-34 years old. 66% of participants did not support the ban and 65% believed the ban had not been enforced completely. Most users reported being able to obtain flavored tobacco products in multiple ways despite the ban.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that comprehensive local flavor bans, by themselves, cannot sharply reduce the availability or use of flavored tobacco products among residents. Nevertheless, local bans can still significantly reduce overall e-cigarette use and cigar smoking but may increase cigarette smoking.

Keywords: Cigar; Cigarettes; E-cigarettes; Flavor; Flavor ban; Smoking; Vaping.