By Eurasia Evaluation
When San Francisco voters overwhelmingly accredited a poll measure banning the sale of flavored tobacco merchandise in 2018, public well being advocates celebrated. In any case, tobacco use poses a major risk to public well being and well being fairness, and flavors are significantly enticing to youth.
However based on a brand new examine from the Yale Faculty of Public Well being (YSPH), that regulation might have had the alternative impact. Analyses discovered that, after the ban’s implementation, highschool college students’ odds of smoking typical cigarettes doubled in San Francisco’s faculty district relative to developments in districts with out the ban, even when adjusting for particular person demographics and different tobacco insurance policies.
The examine, printed in JAMA Pediatrics, is believed to be the primary to evaluate how full taste bans have an effect on youth smoking habits.
“These findings suggest a need for caution,” mentioned Abigail Friedman, the examine’s writer and an assistant professor of well being coverage at YSPH. “While neither smoking cigarettes nor vaping nicotine are safe per se, the bulk of current evidence indicates substantially greater harms from smoking, which is responsible for nearly one in five adult deaths annually. Even if it is well-intentioned, a law that increases youth smoking could pose a threat to public health.”
Friedman used information on highschool college students underneath 18 years of age from the Youth Danger Habits Surveillance System’s 2011-2019 faculty district surveys. Previous to the ban’s implementation, past-30-day smoking charges in San Francisco and the comparability faculty districts had been related and declining. But as soon as the flavour ban was absolutely applied in 2019, San Francisco’s smoking charges diverged from developments noticed elsewhere, rising because the comparability districts’ charges continued to fall.
To clarify these outcomes, Friedman famous that digital nicotine supply programs have been the most well-liked tobacco product amongst U.S. youth since no less than 2014, with flavored choices largely most well-liked.
“Think about youth preferences: some kids who vape choose e-cigarettes over combustible tobacco products because of the flavors,” she mentioned. “For these individuals as well as would-be vapers with similar preferences, banning flavors may remove their primary motivation for choosing vaping over smoking, pushing some of them back toward conventional cigarettes.”
These findings have implications for Connecticut, the place the state legislature is at the moment contemplating two taste payments: Home Invoice 6450 would ban gross sales of flavored digital nicotine supply programs, whereas Senate Invoice 326 would ban gross sales of any flavored tobacco product. Because the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration not too long ago introduced that it’s going to ban flavors in all flamable tobacco merchandise inside the subsequent yr, each payments may end in a Connecticut coverage that’s just like the whole ban enacted in San Francisco.
The San Francisco examine does have limitations. As a result of there was solely a short while because the ban was applied, the pattern might differ in coming years. San Francisco can be simply one among a number of localities and states which have applied restrictions on flavored tobacco gross sales, with in depth variations between these legal guidelines. Thus, results might differ elsewhere, Friedman wrote.
Nonetheless, as related restrictions proceed to look throughout the nation, the findings counsel that policymakers ought to be cautious to not not directly push minors towards cigarettes of their quest to cut back vaping, she mentioned.
What does she counsel as a substitute? “If Connecticut is determined to make a change before the FDA’s flavor ban for combustible products goes into effect, a good candidate might be restricting all tobacco product sales to adult-only — that is 21-plus — retailers,” she mentioned. “This would substantively reduce children’s incidental exposure to tobacco products at convenience stores and gas stations, and adolescents’ access to them, without increasing incentives to choose more lethal combustible products over non-combustible options like e-cigarettes.”