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Counterfeit Electronic Cigarette Products with Mislabeled Nicotine Concentrations



We compared nicotine concentrations in one brand of refill fluids that were purchased in 4 countries and labeled 0 mg of nicotine/mL. We then identified counterfeit e-cigarette products from these countries.


Overall, 125 e-cigarette refill fluids were purchased in Nigeria, the United States (US), England, and China. Nicotine concentrations were measured using high performance liquid chromatography and compared to labeled concentrations. Refill fluids were examined to identify physical differences and grouped into authentic and counterfeit products.


Whereas nicotine was in 51.7% (15/29) of the Nigerian, 3.7% (1/27) of the Chinese and 1.6% (1/61) of the American refill fluids (range = 0.4 - 20.4 mg/mL), 8 British products did not contain nicotine. Products from China, the US, and Nigeria with trace amounts of nicotine (0.4 to 0.6 mg/mL) were authentic; however, all products from Nigeria with more than 3.7 mg/mL were counterfeit.


We introduce 2 novel issues in the e-cigarette industry, the production of counterfeit refill fluids under a brandjacked label and inclusion of nicotine in 81.3% of the counterfeit products labeled 0 mg/mL. This study emphasizes the need for better control and monitoring of nicotine containing products and sales outlets.

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