By Dr Farsalinos

A new study was published today in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health by our group, evaluating e-liquids for the presence of tobacco-derived toxins. Additionally, the accuracy of nicotine labelling was assessed. The study is novel because for the first time we assessed tobacco-flavored liquids for the presence of phenols and nitrate (known toxins in tobacco smoke), as well as nitrosamines. Moreover, we assessed a specific group of e-liquids (known as Natural Extracts of Tobacco – NETs), which are made by using cured tobacco leaves to extract the flavor. This is the first time that such liquids are specifically tested.

The study verified that tobacco-derived toxins are lower by orders of magnitude in e-liquids compared to tobacco products. Characteristically, nitrosamines were 146-1447 times lower in e-liquids compared to tobacco products (in 1 mL liquid compared to 1 gram of tobacco), while nitrate was 1360 times lower. NET liquids contained somewhat higher levels of tobacco-derived toxins compared to conventional e-liquids, but the levels were still significantly lower compared to tobacco. Deviation from labelled nicotine content was on average 5.9% for conventional e-liquids and 1.5% for NETs, with maximum deviation being 22.1%. Interestingly, no difference between conventional liquids and NETs were observed, indicating that the flavor extraction process does not lead to extraction of nicotine from the tobacco leaves.

The study adds to current evidence confirming the lower risk potential of e-cigarettes compared to tobacco. NET liquids contained more tobacco-derived toxins, but still much lower compared to tobacco.