Waterpipe smoking: analysis of the aroma profile of flavored waterpipe tobaccos

Talanta. 2013 Oct 15:115:665-74. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2013.06.022. Epub 2013 Jun 21.


In the last years the habit of smoking waterpipes has spread worldwide, especially among young people and emerged as global health issue. Although research is now under way for no less than 40 years in the field of waterpipe smoking, in comparison to cigarette smoking there is still insufficient knowledge on the real composition and the toxicity of the smoke inhaled and the resulting levels of exposure against particular hazardous ingredients. In most cases for waterpipe smoking a highly flavored tobacco called "moassel" is used. However, the number, quantity and toxicity of the added flavorings are widely unknown. In this study the static headspace gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (SHS-GC-MS) was used to identify 79 volatile flavor compounds present in waterpipe tobacco. Among these eleven compounds were analyzed quantitatively. The results show that waterpipe tobacco contains high amounts of the fragrance benzyl alcohol as well as considerable levels of limonene, linalool and eugenol, all of which are known as being allergenic in human skin. The proposed SHS-GC-MS method has been validated and found to be accurate, simple and characterized by low limits of detection (LOD) in the range of 0.016 to 4.3 µg/g tobacco for benzaldehyde and benzyl alcohol, respectively. The identification and characterization of waterpipe tobacco ingredients indeed reveals crucial for the assessment of potential health risks that may be posed by these additives in smokers.

Keywords: Flavored waterpipe tobacco; Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry; Headspace; Waterpipe.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Benzyl Alcohol / analysis*
  • Cyclohexenes / analysis*
  • Eugenol / analysis*
  • Flavoring Agents / analysis*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Limit of Detection
  • Limonene
  • Monoterpenes / analysis*
  • Smoking*
  • Terpenes / analysis*
  • Tobacco / chemistry*
  • Water


  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexenes
  • Flavoring Agents
  • Monoterpenes
  • Terpenes
  • Water
  • Eugenol
  • Limonene
  • linalool
  • Benzyl Alcohol