At a Senate hearing back in June, Jay Rockefeller, the senior United States Senator from West Virginia, noted that e-cig fluid or ‘e-liquid’ how it’s often called is available in a wide variety of flavors—conclusive evidence, to his mind, that electronic cigarette companies want to hook minors on nicotine. ‘I am an adult,’ the Democrat said. ‘Would I be attracted to Cherry Crush, Chocolate Treat, Peachy Keen, and Vanilla Dreams? No, I wouldn’t.’ It did not even matter that Jason Healy, founder of Blu eCigs, tried to offer a valid counter-argument by citing a customer survey that suggested ‘the average age of a cherry smoker is in the high 40s’because the 77 years old senator already set his mind: if an ecig flavor does not appeal to this him, it could not possibly appeal to anyone older than 17.
However, as this may come as a big shock for some, a new survey conducted by the E-Cigarette Forum, a very popular online community for vapers, suggests that fruit and sweet flavors are actually more appealing to adult e-cigarette users than tobacco.
The survey was conducted in late June and early July 2014 and included more than 10,000 members of the online community, 78% of whom live in the United States. Their ages ranged anywhere from 18 to ‘65 and over,’ with 74%between the ages of 22 and 54. Respondents were asked which flavor they used most, with only 22% answering tobacco and an additional 3% saying menthol tobacco. In other words, three-quarters of these adult vapers are going for flavors other than tobacco, including fruit (31%), bakery/dessert (19%), and savory/spice (5%).
This is quite logical, because of the wide variety of flavors on the market. The New York Times reports that ‘more than 7,000 flavors are now available and, by one estimate, nearly 250 more are being introduced every month’ especially in the case of vapers who, like the majority of respondents in this survey, use devices with refillable tanks, rather than e-cigarettes that are either entirely disposable or work with disposable cartridges. Refillable vaporizers, available mainly online or in specialized outlets, are less likely to interest teenagers than the cheaper ‘cig-a-likes’ sold in supermarkets, gas stations and convenience stores.
The E-Cigarette Forum survey gathered other interesting data, like the fact that 89 percent of respondents smoked at least 10 combustible cigs the day before making the switch to their electronic counterparts. Considering that 88 percent of those who answered the survey said they were not currently smokers, we can speculate that personal vaporizers helped them fight their hazardous habit.
Notably, two-thirds of the ex-smokers surveyed said nontobacco flavors were important in helping them quit. Similar data reported in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health last December likewise indicate that flavor variety is important in smoking cessation. That study, which involved about 4,500 vapers, found that they tended to prefer tobacco-flavored fluid initially but later switched to other flavors.
Another interesting fact is about a question included in the survey about the situation in which e-cigarettes or e-liquid would be banned. About 79 percent of people said they would turn to the black market for ecigs while only 14 percent said they would go back to tobacco smoking.