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Impact of Flavors on Nicotine Perception and Self-Administration via E-cigarettes

Principal Investigator(s): Elise DeVito

Funding Mechanism: NIH Grant

ID number: 1R01DA046360-01A1

Award Date: June 15, 2019

Institution: Yale University

Mechanisms by which flavors impact the initiation and maintenance of tobacco use are not well understood. Existing evidence suggests that flavors may enhance the appeal of and facilitate the development of addiction to tobacco products by influencing nicotine's reinforcing or aversive actions. The goal of this study is to examine whether menthol and fruit flavors impact e-cigarette use through specific behavioral mechanisms and exert different effects across nicotine concentrations. Study aims are to assess the impacts of nicotine and flavor (and their interactions) on participants' subjective ratings of different e-liquids and the cumulative amounts of self-administered e-liquids.  Fifty young adults (ages 18-30 years) will be asked to attend four test sessions each. Each test session will consist of two components. During the first component, subjects will use five different e-cigarettes and will be directed to take two 4-second puffs at 15-second intervals for each e-cigarette, with a 5-minute break between each e-cigarette. Subjects will be asked to self-administer a total of 12 puffs of the e-cigarette across approximately half an hour. They will be asked to report subjective effects for each e-cigarette during the 5-minute breaks using the Drug Effects Questionnaire (DEQ). In the second component, subjects will be given access to the same five e-cigarettes and be allowed to use them as they choose for 45 minutes in total; researchers will track number of puffs. The sessions will be identical except that the e-liquids in the e-cigarettes will differ between sessions. The subjects will use 20 e-liquid types across the entire study (4 test sessions x 5 e-liquid conditions per session) and the e-liquids will vary by flavor (unflavored, menthol, menthol mint, green apple, watermelon) and nicotine level (0, 6, 12, 24 mg/ml nicotine). The order of flavors and nicotine levels will be randomly assigned to each subject and neither the subject nor the researcher will be told the order. This study will provide new information about the impact of flavors on e-cigarette use.