The authors examined 31 users of electronic cigarettes and vapor products that were healthy, over 18 years of age and had vaped for more than one and using a nicotine concentration of more than 9 to 12 mg/mL. Participants were asked to use blue eCigs with various flavors. Participants were both sole and dual e-cigarette users.
The authors tested four different flavors including two tobacco flavors (Classic Tobacco and Magnificent Mint), and four non-tobacco flavors (Cherry Crush, Piña Colada, Peach Schnapps, and Vivid Vanilla) in 12mg/mL.
The authors then conducted vaping sessions, which consisted of training the participants on the two different methods that would be used to gather perceptions. After training, participants proceeded to go through a “palate cleansing procedure,” after which, they would be instructed to take four puffs from the first e-cigarette. After taking puffs, participants were asked to rate their liking and/or disliking of the flavor and then asked to describe the intensity of the flavor including sweetness, coolness, bitterness and harshness. Afterwards, palates were cleansed again and participants were given the second flavor, this was repeated four more times until all e-cigarette flavors had been tested.
Among the participants, the average age was 34 years and 58 percent were male. About one-third reported being dual users and average years smoking was 18.1 years. Dual users reported higher nicotine strengths, averaging at 20.6 mg/mL, compared to exclusive e-cigarette users, who averaged at 17.2 mg/mL. All participants “reported using a variety of e-cig, including cigalikes, vape pens, and box and tank mods.” The majority – 80 percent – of participants reported preferring flavored e-cigarettes and vapor products.
Among participants, Piña Colada was described as the sweetest flavor and most liked, while Classic Tobacco was described as least sweet and the least liked flavor among all flavors presented. Flavor liking positively correlated with perceptions of sweetness and coolness and negatively correlated with perceptions of harshness and bitterness.
The authors concluded that the “findings suggest that flavours play an important role in liking and disliking of e-cigarettes.” Further, the authors note “that the role of sweet flavours in e-cigarettes is potentially significant in attracting current e-cigarette and users and dual e-cigarette and cigarette users.”
Many localities and some states have already banned flavors in e-cigarettes and vapor products. Although policymakers use such bans to prevent youth use of e-cigarettes, flavors are important for adult users of vapor products. This study provides further evidence of the role in flavors in not only helping smokers quit, but enabling current e-cigarette users to remain smoke-free.
Objective: To examine the extent to which the perception of sweet and other flavours is associated with liking and disliking of flavoured electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).
Methods: 31 participants (13 females/18 males; 12 sole/19 dual users) vaped 6 commercially available flavours of blu Tanks: Classic Tobacco (CT), Magnificent Menthol (MM), Cherry Crush (CC), Vivid Vanilla (VV), Piña Colada (PC) and Peach Schnapps (PS); all ‘medium’ strength, 12 mg/mL nicotine concentration. For each flavoured e-cigarette, participants first rated liking/disliking on the Labeled Hedonic Scale, followed by perceived intensities of sweetness, coolness, bitterness, harshness and specific flavour on the generalised version of the Labeled Magnitude Scale. The psychophysical testing was conducted individually in an environmental chamber.
Results: PC was perceived as sweetest and liked the most; CT was perceived as least sweet and liked the least. Across all flavours, liking was correlated with sweetness (r=0.31), coolness (r=0.25), bitterness (r=−0.25) and harshness (r=−0.29, all p<0.001). Specifically, liking was positively correlated with sweetness of PS (r=0.56, p=0.001) and PC (r=0.36, p=0.048); and with coolness of MM, CT and VV (r=0.41–0.52, p<0.05). In contrast, harshness was negatively correlated with liking for CC, PC and PS (r=0.37–0.40, p<0.05). In a multivariate model, sweetness had the greatest positive impact on liking followed by coolness; harshness had the greatest negative impact on liking.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that bitterness and harshness, most likely from nicotine, have negative impacts on the liking of e-cigarettes, but the addition of flavourants that elicit sweetness or coolness generally improves liking. The results suggest that flavours play an important role in e-cigarette preference and most likely use.Read Report