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Themes in e-liquid concept names as a marketing tactic: evidence from Premarket Tobacco Product Applications in the USA
  1. Linnea Laestadius1,
  2. Julia Vassey2,
  3. Minji Kim3,
  4. Jenny Ozga4,
  5. Dongmei Li5,
  6. Cassandra Stanton4,
  7. Heather Wipfli2,
  8. Jennifer B Unger2
  1. 1Zilber School of Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
  2. 2Department of Population and Public Health Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  3. 3Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  4. 4Behavioral Health and Health Policy Practice, Westat, Inc, Rockville, Maryland, USA
  5. 5Department of Clinical and Translational Research, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Linnea Laestadius, Zilber School of Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53211, USA; llaestad{at}

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Concept naming of flavours is popular among e-liquid manufacturers.1–3 Rather than explicitly stating a taste or smell, these names convey aesthetics or sensations (eg, unicorn, frostbite, roadhouse), as well as positive health and lifestyle experiences (eg, relaxed, blissful).4 Concept names are frequently accompanied by colourful packaging and bottle designs that reinforce their connotations.1 2 While concept naming is not novel, its impact on youth appeal, as distinct from the flavours themselves, is understudied.5

Concept naming warrants additional attention following US regulatory developments limiting characterising flavours in e-liquids. Several states and localities (eg, New York, Massachusetts, San Francisco) prohibited the sale of non-tobacco-flavoured electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) and e-liquid products as early as 2020,6 and as of April 2022, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Premarket Tobacco Product Marketing Granted Orders only for tobacco-flavoured e-cigarette and e-liquid products, denying many flavoured products.7 Several countries, including China and Denmark, have announced similar restrictions.8 Prior research suggests that tobacco companies attempt to bypass flavour restrictions through concept names that obscure flavour profiles.9 10 …

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  • Contributors All authors assisted with study development and manuscript content. LL, JV, MK, JO and DL reviewed PMTA lists. LL prepared the full draft, with the other authors assisting with edits.

  • Funding This work is a cross-institution collaborative project from the Marketing Influences Special Interest Group supported, in part, by U54-DA046060-01 from the Center for Coordination of Analytics, Science, Enhancement and Logistics (CASEL) in Tobacco Regulatory Science (National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products (FDA CTP)). Research reported in this publication was supported in part by U54CA180905 from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the FDA CTP-funded Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS) at the University of Southern California, U54CA228110 from the WNY Center for Research on Flavored Tobacco Products (CRoFT) under cooperative agreement, and the University of Rochester CTSA award UL1 TR002001 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.

  • Disclaimer The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funders or affiliated institutions.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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