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Flavoring Compounds in Tobacco Products

Principal Investigator: Douglas Dockery

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health - Grant

ID number:  3 P30 ES000002-52S1

Award Date: 8/25/2015

Institution: Harvard School of Public Health

Although the popularity and use of flavored e-cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products continues to increase, particularly among youth, data on the potential human health effects of these products are limited. In the early 2000s, concerns were raised about chemicals used in flavorings after workers at a microwave popcorn factory were diagnosed with the respiratory disease bronchiolitis obliterans; the disease was attributed to their inhalation of diacetyl, a butter flavoring compound. Diacetyl and its replacements (2, 3-pentanedione and acetoin) are used in the manufacture of many foods to create a wide range of flavors (e.g., caramel, cream, pina colada, strawberry). Many of these flavors are common in e-cigarette flavor cartridges, and users of e-cigarettes are directly inhaling these flavoring compounds. The goals of this study are: to quantify the concentrations of these flavoring compounds in e-cigarette liquids and aerosols; to estimate exposures for users of e-cigarettes; to profile airway epithelial cells; and to conduct in vitro assays for inflammation, cell proliferation and apoptosis. . Researchers will conduct a market survey to identify the top brands of flavored e-cigarettes and other categories of flavored tobacco products (i.e., flavored cigarettes and cigars, including little cigars and cigarillos) available for purchase in U.S. retail outlets, and then test samples of 51 products. Results may inform regulatory activities related to flavoring compounds used in e-cigarettes and other combusted tobacco products.

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