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Ethyl maltol, vanillin, corylone and other conventional confectionery-related flavour chemicals dominate in some e-cigarette liquids labelled ‘tobacco’ flavoured



The increased popularity of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has been linked to the abundance of flavoured products that are attractive to adolescents and young adults. In the last decade, e-cigarette designs have evolved through four generations that include modifications in battery power, e-cigarette liquid (e-liquid) reservoirs and atomiser units. E-liquids have likewise evolved in terms of solvent use/ratios, concentration and number of flavour chemicals, use of nicotine salts and acids, the recent increased use of synthetic cooling agents and the introduction of synthetic nicotine. Our current objective was to evaluate and compare the evolving composition of tobacco-flavoured e-liquids over the last 10 years.


Our extensive database of flavour chemicals in e-liquids was used to identify trends and changes in flavour chemical composition and concentrations.


Tobacco-flavoured products purchased in 2010 and 2011 generally had very few flavour chemicals, and their concentrations were generally very low. In tobacco-flavoured refill fluids purchased in 2019 and Puff Bar Tobacco e-cigarettes, the total number and concentration of flavour chemicals were higher than expected. Products with total flavour chemicals >10 mg/mL contained one to five dominant flavour chemicals (>1 mg/mL). The most frequently used flavour chemicals in tobacco e-liquids were fruity and caramellic.


There is a need for continuous surveillance of e-liquids, which are evolving in often subtle and harmful ways. Chemical constituents of tobacco flavours should be monitored as they clearly can be doctored by manufacturers to have a taste that would appeal to young users.

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