INTRODUCTION: The use of flavored tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), is common in the United States, and flavored products are particularly appealing to young people. The objective of this study was to describe national and state trends in flavored and menthol e-cigarette unit sales.
METHODS: We examined data on 4 types of e-cigarette products (rechargeables, disposables, prefilled cartridges, and e-liquid refills). We used Universal Product Code retail scanner data from 2 sources: 1) convenience stores and 2) all other outlets combined, including supermarkets, drug stores, mass merchandisers (including Walmart), dollar stores, club stores, and US Department of Defense commissaries. We aggregated data in 4-week periods for the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia for the 5-year period from 2012 through 2016. Data from vape shops and internet sales were not available. We used Joinpoint regression to assess trends.
RESULTS: From 2012 through 2016, flavored e-cigarette sales as a percentage of all e-cigarette sales increased nationally (from 2.4% to 19.8%) and in all but 4 states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Vermont). Nationally, flavored disposable and prefilled cartridge sales increased. Menthol e-cigarette sales were stable nationally at 35% to 40%, while the percentage of menthol disposable, prefilled cartridge, and e-liquid refill sales decreased. By state, menthol e-cigarette sales increased in 2 states (Idaho and Nebraska) and decreased in 7 states. During 2015-2016, the percentage of flavored sales decreased in one state (Rhode Island) and increased in 29 states.
CONCLUSION: These findings demonstrate that sales of flavored e-cigarette products have increased dramatically since 2012, with variations by product type and state. Continued monitoring of sales trends at all retail outlets can inform federal, state, and local efforts to address flavored tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes, in the United States.