Objectives Flavours increase attractiveness of electronic cigarettes and stimulate use among vulnerable groups such as non-smoking adolescents. It is important for regulators to monitor the market to gain insight in, and regulate the range of e-liquid flavours that is available to consumers. E-liquid manufacturers are required to report key product information to authorities in the European Member States in which they plan to market their products. This information was used to provide an overview of e-liquid flavour descriptions marketed in the Netherlands in 2017.
Methods Two researchers classified 19 266 e-liquids into the 16 main categories of the e-liquid flavour wheel, based on information from four variables in the European Common Entry Gate system. Flavour descriptions were further specified in subcategories.
Results For 16 300 e-liquids (85%), sufficient information was available for classification. The categories containing the highest number of e-liquids were fruit (34%), tobacco (16%) and dessert (10%). For all e-liquids, excluding unflavoured ones, 245 subcategories were defined within the main categories. In addition to previously reported subcategories, various miscellaneous flavours such as sandwich, buttermilk and lavender were identified.
Conclusions In 2017, ~20 000 e-liquids were reported to be marketed in the Netherlands, in 245 unique flavour descriptions. The variety of marketed flavour descriptions reflects flavour preference of e-cigarette users as described in literature. Our systematic classification of e-liquids by flavour description provides a tool for organising the huge variety in market supply, serves as an example for other countries to generate similar overviews and can support regulators in developing flavour regulations.
- flavor descriptions
- consumer appeal
- e-liquid manufacturing
- tobacco product directive
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Contributors AH and EJZK contributed equally. AH, EJZK and RT conceptualised and designed the study. JP prepared and analysed the data. AH and EJZK supervised e-liquid classification and wrote the manuscript. SB, KdG, JP and RT provided critical feedback on the manuscript.
Funding The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS), project 5.7.1.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement Processed data classification tools are available upon reasonable request.
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