Introduction: E-cigarette users typically initiate vaping with flavoured e-liquids. People who vape flavours tend to underestimate the harm of vaping. We examined the inter-relationship between flavour preference, vaping for cessation purposes, e-cigarette dependence, e-cigarette harm perception and purchase/use intention, given a hypothetical flavour ban. We hypothesised that non-tobacco flavour preference and vaping for cessation would be negatively associated with harm perception of e-cigarettes and intention to continue vaping if a flavour ban occurred and that these effects would be mediated by e-cigarette dependence.
Methods: From July 2019 to March 2020, we conducted intercept interviews with 276 customers at 44 vape shops in California. The predictor variables were flavour preference and vaping for cessation. The outcome variables were harm perception of e-cigarettes and intention to purchase/use, given a hypothetical flavour ban. Multilevel structural equation modelling tested whether e-cigarette dependence mediates the effects of flavour preference on hypothetical continued vaping and purchase.
Results: Those who preferred flavours showed significantly lower intention to purchase e-liquids (β=-0.28, p<0.001) and to continue vaping (β=-0.17, p=0.001), given a hypothetical flavour ban. Those who vaped for smoking cessation indicated greater intention to purchase e-liquid (β=0.10, p=0.016) and to continue vaping (β=0.17, p=0.001), given a hypothetical flavour ban. E-cigarette dependence significantly mediated these effects (ps<0.04).
Discussion: Flavour preference was negatively related to intention to continue to vape within a hypothetical flavour ban. Our results also highlight the importance of e-cigarette dependence and use of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation methods. Implications for future flavour bans are discussed.
Keywords: electronic nicotine delivery devices; harm reduction; public policy.
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