The effect of sucralose on flavor sweetness in electronic cigarettes varies between delivery devices

PLoS One. 2017 Oct 2;12(10):e0185334. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185334. eCollection 2017.


The appeal of sweet electronic cigarette flavors makes it important to identify the chemical compounds that contribute to their sweetness. While volatile chemicals that produce sweet aromas have been identified in e-liquids, there are no published reports of sugars or artificial sweeteners in commercial e-liquids. However, the sweetener sucralose is marketed as an e-liquid additive to commercial flavors. The primary aims of the study were to determine if sucralose is delivered in sufficient concentration in the inhaled aerosol to enhance flavor sweetness, and whether the amount delivered depends on the e-liquid delivery system. Thirty-two adult smokers rated flavor intensity, sweetness, harshness and liking/disliking for 4 commercial flavors with and without sucralose (1%) using 2 e-cigarette delivery systems (cartridge and tank). Participants alternately vaped normally or with the nose pinched closed to block perception of volatile flavor components via olfaction. LC/MS was used to measure the concentration of sucralose in the e-liquid aerosols using a device that mimicked vaping. Sweetness and flavor intensity were perceived much more strongly when olfaction was permitted. The contribution of sucralose to sweetness was significant only for the cartridge system, and the chemical analysis showed that the concentration of sucralose in the aerosol was higher when the cartridge was used. Together these findings indicate that future regulation of sweet flavor additives should focus first on the volatile constituents of e-liquids with the recognition that artificial sweeteners may also contribute to flavor sweetness depending upon e-cigarette design.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychophysics
  • Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Sucrose / analogs & derivatives*
  • Taste*
  • Young Adult


  • Sucrose
  • trichlorosucrose