The implementation of a 2022 California law banning the sale of Flavor Vape and tobacco products has led to a significant rise in online shopping for cigarettes and vaping products.
Flavor Vape Restriction Affected Online Consumer Behavior
Researchers from the University of California San Diego’s Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science investigated how this statewide flavor vape restriction affected online consumer behavior.
By comparing observed shopping queries with expected rates, the researchers found that shopping queries for cigarettes were 194 percent higher than expected, while queries for vape products were 162 percent higher than expected.
Principal investigator Eric Leas highlighted the effectiveness of retailer licensing programs in enforcing tobacco control laws but raised concerns about the exclusion of e-commerce retailers from these programs, which can undermine their impact.
Despite the flavor vape restriction, the analysis of the first 60 websites yielded from the search queries revealed that at least two online retailers still offered flavor vape products or menthol cigarettes to California consumers.
In some cases, a single query yielded as many as 36 websites, accounting for 60 percent of the search results.
To address this issue, the study authors recommend strengthening regulations by including e-commerce retailers in the scope of retailer licensing programs.