Background This clinical experiment tested the effects of exposure to e-cigarettes with WS-23 or menthol cooling additives on user appeal and sensory attributes, and, secondarily, whether WS-23 effects generalised across base characterising flavour, nicotine concentration, or nicotine/tobacco product use status.
Methods In this within-participant double-blind experiment, adult tobacco/nicotine users administered standardised puffs of 18 different e-cigarette solutions in randomised sequences using a pod-style device. Each of three base characterising e-cigarette flavour solutions (‘bold tobacco’, ‘mango,’ ‘wintergreen’) in both 2% and 4% concentrations of nicotine benzoate salt were manipulated by adding either: (1) Menthol (0.5%), (2) WS-23 (0.75%) or (3) No cooling agent. After each administration, participants rated 3 appeal and 5 sensory attributes (0–100 scales).
Results Participants (n=84; M(SD)=38.6 (13.6) years old) were either exclusive e-cigarette (25.0%), cigarette (36.9%) or dual (38.1%) users. WS-23 versus no coolant products produced higher liking, willingness to use again, smoothness, and coolness and lower disliking, bitterness, and harshness ratings (|B|difference range: 4.8 to 20.1; ps<0.005). Menthol (vs no coolant) increased willingness to use again and reduced harshness and coolness (ps<0.05). Flavours with WS-23 (vs menthol) were rated as smoother, cooler and less harsh (ps<0.05). Coolant effects did not differ by base flavour, nicotine concentration, or tobacco use status.
Conclusions Adding synthetic coolant WS-23 to e-cigarettes appears to make the vaping user experience more appealing, regardless of characterising base flavour. Regulatory agencies should be aware that the manufacturing process of adding synthetic coolants may increase the attractiveness of various e-cigarette products.Cite Now
- electronic nicotine delivery devices
- public policy
Data availability statement
Data are available upon reasonable request.
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Contributors APT and AL designed this study and obtained funding support for this manuscript. APT drafted the initial manuscript draft. DHH conducted all statistical analyses. All authors contributed to the editing, reviewing the manuscript versions, and have read the final version of this manuscript. AL is the guarantor.
Funding Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute and the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) under Award Number U54CA180905, National Institute on Drug Abuse under award number K24DA048160, and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (K01HL148907).
Competing interests MLG has served as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board to Johnson & Johnson; he has also consulted with both the WHO and Campaign for TobaccoFree Kids on toxicity of tobacco products and tobacco control products; MLG is also a Member of the IASLC Tobacco Control and Smoking Cessation Committee; and a leadership role with the American Association for Cancer Research.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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