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Unexpected nicotine in Do-it-Yourself electronic cigarette flavourings
  1. Barbara Davis1,
  2. Aladino Razo1,
  3. Eugene Nothnagel2,
  4. Mathew Chen3,
  5. Prue Talbot1
  1. 1Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, University of California, Riverside, California, USA
  2. 2Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside, California, USA
  3. 3Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Riverside, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Prue Talbot, Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA; talbot{at}

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Electronic cigarette (EC) users often create their own refill fluids by blending bottled nicotine/propylene glycol/glycerol mixtures with Do-it-Yourself (DIY) flavourings.1 Although a complete refill fluid usually contains nicotine, the flavouring solutions themselves are an additive and are presumed to be free of nicotine, which is a known addictive chemical and toxicant.2 To determine if DIY flavourings are nicotine free, we evaluated 30 products from one vendor, using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) (figure 1B–D), and confirmed the presence of nicotine via gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC-MS) (figure 1E, F). HPLC analysis was performed as previously described in detail.3 Nicotine was extracted from DIY flavorings4 and GC-MS analysis of the extracts was performed using a Hewlett-Packard 5890 Series II gas chromatograph equipped with a Restek Rtx-1MS, 30 m, 0.25 mm column and a Hewlett-Packard 5971A mass selective detector. Samples were analysed from 40°C to 250°C with a total run time of 32.75 min per …

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  • Contributors BD planned the study, oversaw the HPLC and wrote the letter. AR performed and analysed the GC-MS data. MC performed and analysed the HPLC data. EN helped plan and design the GC-MS method, and assisted in editing the letter. PT designed the study, contributed to writing the letter and oversaw the project.

  • Funding This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant number R011DA036493 and a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship to BD.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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