Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Role of sweet and other flavours in liking and disliking of electronic cigarettes
  1. Hyoshin Kim1,
  2. Juyun Lim2,
  3. Stephanie S Buehler3,
  4. Marielle C Brinkman3,
  5. Nathan M Johnson3,
  6. Laura Wilson3,
  7. Kandice S Cross3,
  8. Pamela I Clark4
  1. 1Battelle Public Health Center for Tobacco Research, Battelle Memorial Institute, Seattle, Washington, USA
  2. 2Department of Food Science and Technology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA
  3. 3Battelle Public Health Center for Tobacco Research, Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, OH, USA
  4. 4School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hyoshin Kim, Battelle Public Health Center for Tobacco Research, Battelle Memorial Institute, 1100 Dexter Avenue N., Suite 400, Seattle, WA 98109, USA; kimh{at}


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.

  • Electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • Nicotine
  • Public policy

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors HK conceived and led the study, including the design, the data analyses and the writing up of the findings. JL advised on the study, analysed data, and provided key input into the interpretation and write up of study findings. SSB contributed to the study design, facilitated recruitment and laboratory processing of participants, and contributed to the interpretation and write up of study findings. MCB contributed to the study design, and contributed to the interpretation and write up of study findings. NMJ, LW and KSC processed laboratory participants and collected data. PIC advised on the study.

  • Funding Research reported in this publication was supported by grant number P50CA180523-S1 from the National Cancer Institute and FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) awarded to the University of Maryland.

  • Disclaimer The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or the Food and Drug Administration.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Battelle Institutional Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.