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 42.7% increase in the market share of menthol-flavoured e-cigarettes over 4 weeks and a 104.9% 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.
- public policy
- electronic nicotine delivery devices
- surveillance and monitoring
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Contributors MCD supervised the data coding process and conducted the analyses. ED, BS and MCD drafted the manuscript. All authors collaborated on the interpretation of findings and placement in context, were involved in the conceptualisation of the study and design of analyses and were responsible for review and refinement of the manuscript’s content.
Funding This study was funded by Truth Initiative.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.