E-cigarette devices, brands, and flavors attract youth: Informing FDA’s policies and priorities to close critical gaps

14 November 2021

By Shivani MathurGaiha, Lauren KassLempert, KarmaMcKelvey, BonnieHalpern-Felsher Source: ScienceDirect



Identify e-cigarette devices, brands, and flavor types used by adolescents and young adults soon after the enactment of flavor restrictions, youth access laws, FDA’s enforcement prioritization against some flavored pod/cartridge-based e-cigarettes, and during COVID-19 pandemic-related school closures.


National cross-sectional online survey (N = 4,351) in May 2020 assessed popularity, ever- and past-30-day use of e-cigarette device types (pod/cartridge-based, disposables, others), brands, flavor types and flavor-enhancers, by age group (under age 21 and 21 and over).


While pod/cartridge-based e-cigarettes had the highest ever-use (82.7% <21; 69.8% ≥21) and were most often-used (41.9% <21; 41.4% ≥21), most past 30-day-users (50.8% <21; 61.9% ≥21) and 7-day-users (36.0% <21; 56.7% ≥21) used disposables. Mint/menthol was the most-used flavor type (pod/cartridge-based: 48.2% <21, 48.1% ≥21; disposables: 51.6% <21, 56.4% ≥21), followed by fruit (pod/cartridge-based: 37.4% <21, 35.5%≥ 21; disposables: 51.6% >21, 46.2% ≥ 21), and sweet/dessert/candy flavor types (pod/cartridge-based: 24.4% <21, 24.7% ≥21; disposables: 29.7% <21, 33.8% ≥21). Participants reported using add-on e-cigarette flavor-enhancers (pod/cartridge-based: 24.6%; disposables: 31.3%).


Soon after FDA’s January 2020 announcement of prioritized enforcement against flavored pod/cartridge-based e-cigarettes and during the pandemic lockdown, adolescents’ and young adults’ past 30-day use included mostly flavored disposables rather than pod/cartridge-based e-cigarettes, mint/menthol flavors, and some used add-on flavor enhancers. To reduce youth use, comprehensive regulation of e-cigarette devices and flavors should be enacted and enforced at federal, state, and local levels.