Objective: To explore patterns in flavoured e-cigarette sales following Juul Labs' 2019 removal of mint-flavoured products and the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) 2020 e-cigarette flavour guidance which prohibits flavoured cartridge-based sales, but allows for the sale of tobacco-flavoured and menthol-flavoured cartridges, open-system and disposable e-cigarettes.
Methods: We examined Nielsen Retail Scanner data from September 2013 to March 2020. Inflation-adjusted sales dollars for e-liquid-containing products were classified into five flavour categories (fruit, menthol, mint, tobacco and other).
Results: Following the Juul Labs 2019 and FDA 2020 actions, total e-cigarette sales declined; however, menthol-flavoured e-cigarette sales dollars increased, while mint-flavoured e-cigarette sales dollars decreased in both instances. Juul Labs' removal of mint-flavoured products was followed by a 59.4% increase in the market share of menthol-flavoured e-cigarettes over 4 weeks. The FDA's 2020 guidance was followed by a 54.5% increase in the market share of menthol-flavoured e-cigarettes over 4 weeks and a 82.8% increase over 8 weeks.
Conclusions: Juul Labs' self-regulation and the current FDA flavour guidance were followed by a shift towards menthol-flavoured e-cigarettes. Industry self-regulation and current federal guidance appear insufficient in reversing the youth vaping epidemic. E-cigarettes must be fully regulated as a tobacco product including the removal of flavoured e-cigarettes, including menthol, from the market to reduce youth e-cigarette use.
Keywords: electronic nicotine delivery devices; public policy; surveillance and monitoring.
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