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How Much Nicotine is in Your Electronic Cigarette Flavored Liquid?

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Objectives: In this study, we examined the concordance of manufacturers' labeled nicotine concentration on flavored electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) liquids with lab measured nicotine concentrations and how nicotine is marketed on product labels. Methods: The top 10 selling flavored e-cigarette liquids for 7 brands were purchased from 7 vape shops in 2 major US cities – Richmond, Virginia and Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2015. We examined the nicotine concentration using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (.05mg/mL limit of quantification) and descriptive information on the e-cigarette bottles (N = 40). Results: All nicotine-based samples showed discordance between the labeled and lab measured nicotine concentrations. Overall, 27% showed a higher mean level of measured nicotine, and Richmond, VA samples showed the highest levels of discordance (-60% [pipe tobacco]; 39% [green goblin]). Additionally, 90% of the 6 different types of nicotine-related warning statements indicated that the product "may" contain nicotine ("e-liquid may contain nicotine") even when the product contained nicotine. Moreover, 20% of the e-cigarette liquids included descriptors (low, medium, high nicotine). Conclusions: The findings show that e-cigarette manufacturers provided inaccurate information about nicotine on product labels. Studies are needed to determine what quality control standards are needed to protect the public from the harms of nicotine.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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  • 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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