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Identification of flavour additives in tobacco products to develop a flavour library
  1. Erna JZ Krüsemann,
  2. Wouter F Visser,
  3. Johannes WJM Cremers,
  4. Jeroen LA Pennings,
  5. Reinskje Talhout
  1. National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Professor Reinskje Talhout, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Antonie van Leeuwenhoeklaan 9, 3721 MA Bilthoven, The Netherlands; reinskje.talhout{at}


Objectives This study combines chemical analysis and flavour descriptions of flavour additives used in tobacco products, and provides a starting point to build an extensive library of flavour components, useful for product surveillance.

Methods Headspace gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was used to compare 22 commercially available tobacco products (cigarettes and roll-your-own) expected to have a characterising flavour and 6 commercially available products not expected to have a characterising flavour with 5 reference products (natural tobacco leaves and research cigarettes containing no flavour additives). The flavour components naturally present in the reference products were excluded from components present in commercially available products containing flavour additives. A description of the remaining flavour additives was used for categorisation.

Results GC-MS measurements of the 33 tobacco products resulted in an overview of 186 chemical compounds. Of these, 144 were solely present in commercially available products. These 144 flavour additives were described using 62 different flavour descriptors extracted from flavour databases, which were categorised into eight groups largely based on the definition of characterising flavours from the European Tobacco Product Directive: fruit, spice, herb, alcohol, menthol, sweet, floral and miscellaneous.

Conclusions We developed a method to identify and describe flavour additives in tobacco products. Flavour additives consist of single flavour compounds or mixtures of multiple flavour compounds, and different combinations of flavour compounds can cause a certain flavour. A flavour library helps to detect flavour additives that are characteristic for a certain flavour, and thus can be useful for regulation of flavours in tobacco and related products.

  • Advertising and Promotion
  • Tobacco industry
  • Prevention
  • Addiction
  • Public policy

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors RT obtained study funding. RT, EJZK and JWJMC designed the study. EJZK and JWJMC carried out the experimental work. WFV, EJZK and JLAP conceived the scoring system. JLAP carried out the PCA. EJZK, RT and WFV drafted the manuscript.

  • Funding This study was supported by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, grant number V/050057.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

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