WASHINGTON (Dec. 22, 2015) – The variety of flavors available for Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) like e-cigarettes are a component that keeps many users from returning to traditional tobacco cigarettes, according to a new paper from the R Street Institute.

Author Dr. Edward Anselm, a senior fellow with the R Street Institute, notes that vapers must puff more constantly in order to receive the same levels of nicotine as produced by tobacco cigarettes, which often results in symptoms such as dry mouth and throat. Users report that flavorings help combat those side effects, making them willing to stay with the ENDS products instead of going back to cigarettes.

“Vapers generally report their motivations are harm reduction and smoking cessation, and that they are well-aware that ENDS use is not completely safe,” writes Anselm. “Large-scale surveys and anecdotal evidence show that flavors help users achieve this goal.”

Anselm notes that much more study is needed of the safety of various ENDS flavorings, but little evidence to date supports a conclusion that any specific ENDS flavoring is as unsafe as tobacco smoke. He notes that many flavorings already have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as food additives, though further research is needed on the effects of burning and inhaling the ingredients.

Finally, Anselm writes that there is no data to show that flavorings attract children to ENDS products who would not otherwise smoke cigarettes. Studies on growing teenage experimentation with e-cigarettes do not account for one-time use or for minors who switch to ENDS products as an attempt to stop smoking cigarettes. Further, many jurisdictions have restricted sales of ENDS products to minors in the same way they have restricted tobacco sales.

“Although additional research is required to resolve many of the public safety questions regarding ENDS, it’s clear from the surveys of smokers who already are using the products to cease an unquestionably deadly habit that the public has made up its mind on the matter,” he writes.