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Effects of ‘Ice’ flavoured e-cigarettes with synthetic cooling agent WS-23 or menthol on user-reported appeal and sensory attributes
  1. Alayna P Tackett1,
  2. Dae Hee Han2,3,
  3. Natalia Peraza2,
  4. Reid C Whaley2,
  5. Tyler Mason4,
  6. Rael Cahn4,
  7. Kurt Hong4,5,
  8. Raina Pang2,
  9. John Monterosso3,6,
  10. Michelle K Page7,
  11. Maciej Lukasz Goniewicz7,
  12. Adam M Leventhal2,3,6,8
  1. 1Internal Medicine, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  2. 2Department of Population and Public Health Sciences, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, USA
  3. 3Institute for Addiction Science, Univeresity of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  4. 4Department of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  5. 5Department of Medicine, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  6. 6Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  7. 7Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo, New York, USA
  8. 8USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Adam M Leventhal, Department of Population and Public Health Sciences, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90032, USA; adam.leventhal{at}


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
  • addiction
  • public policy

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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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.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.