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A Transdisciplinary Approach to Understanding Characteristics of Electronic Cigarettes

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Objectives: Electronic cigarettes (ECIGs) use an electrically powered heating coil to aerosolize a liquid that usually contains solvents, flavorants, and nicotine. The increasing heterogeneity of ECIG devices and liquids complicates efforts to characterize their performance. We present a transdisciplinary approach to identify popular ECIGs and characterize their features using engineering analysis. Methods: A systematic assessment of website rankings, social media content, and analytic tools identified the most popular ECIG brands in 2014 and 2016. We purchased 27 products from those brands identified in 2014 and reverse-engineered them to characterize design features. Results: Of the 23 most popular ECIG brands identified in 2014, only 8 remained popular in 2016. Devices varied by heating coil dimensions and orientation relative to airflow, location of coil, pressure drop, and other variables. Model simulations indicated that these design variations can lead to 50% or greater difference in nicotine emissions, for a given power and liquid. Power ranged from 2 to 7 Watts (W). Mean total and free-base liquid nicotine concentration was 12.16 and 9.35 (4.84) mg/ml, respectively, and PG/VG (vol/vol) ratio 61/39. Conclusions: This study demonstrates a means for tracking the evolution of ECIGs and highlights variable design features of this product relevant to regulation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2018

More about this publication?
  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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