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Taste, Preferences, and Behavior: Effects of Nicotine and Flavorings in Electronic Cigarettes

Principal Investigator: Mark Litt

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health- Grant

ID number: 1R01DA036492-01

Award Date: 9/30/2013

Institution: University of Connecticut Health Center


Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) usage patterns and health risks are not well understood. The purpose of this project is to determine the effects of e-cigarette nicotine concentration and flavor additives on the preferences, cognitions, affects, and behaviors associated with e-cigarette use, particularly in women of reproductive age. Specific aims are: (1) to determine the effects of altering concentrations of nicotine and various flavors on e-cigarette preference and palatability; and (2) to determine the extent to which different flavor additives determine e-cigarette usage. To meet these aims, investigators will conduct a two-phase study of e-cigarettes with 120 male and female smokers aged 18-45 who report no intention to quit. Phase I will entail a laboratory baseline test of preferences, liking, satisfaction, and effects on craving using high versus low concentrations of nicotine crossed with tobacco-flavored or sweet/masking flavor additives; subjects will identify a preferred e-cigarette flavoring. Phase II will evaluate subjects’ usage patterns of preferred cigarettes and e-cigarettes in their home environments. Subjects will be asked to refrain from smoking cigarettes and will be randomized to one of four e-cigarette conditions (no nicotine–tobacco flavoring; high nicotine–tobacco flavoring; no nicotine–preferred flavoring; high nicotine–preferred flavoring). Subjects will call an interactive voice response (IVR) system each evening for six weeks to answer questions about: daily cigarette and e-cigarette use; nicotine cravings before and after e-cigarette use; e-cigarette liking, affects and cognitions related to use; and situational determinants of e-cigarette use. Subjects will also be asked about regular cigarette use, and cigarette smoking will be tested weekly. Investigators will follow up with subjects at three months to determine if cigarette smoking habits have been altered by the e-cigarette experience. Results will provide information about daily motivations to use cigarettes and e-cigarettes, the influence of flavors and nicotine levels on e-cigarette consumption, and the effects of e-cigarette use on subsequent cigarette smoking. These findings may inform future regulation of alternative tobacco products, particularly if certain flavors or nicotine concentrations are found to be associated with greater use.


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