Trends in US E-cigarette Sales and Prices by Nicotine Strength, Overall and by Product and Flavor Type, 2017-2022

Nicotine Tob Res. 2022 Dec 29;ntac284. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntac284. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: The e-cigarette market has expanded considerably in recent years, resulting in changes in availability and use of e-cigarettes with varying characteristics.

Aims and methods: This study assessed trends in sales and prices of e-cigarettes by nicotine strength level, including by product type and flavor, during January 2017-March 2022. US e-cigarette retail sales data were licensed from IRI company. Nicotine strength was categorized as: <1%; 1% to <2%; 2% to <3%; 3% to <4%; 4% to <5%; ≥5%. E-cigarette flavors were categorized as tobacco, menthol, mint, or other flavors. Product type was categorized as prefilled cartridge devices, disposable devices, or e-liquid bottles. Trend analyses were performed using Joinpoint Regression.

Results: During January 2017-March 2022, the unit share of products containing ≥5% nicotine strength increased by 1486.3%, while the dollar share increased by 1345.5%. By March 2022, 80.9% of total unit sales were composed of products containing ≥5% nicotine strength. By flavor, the percentage of units sold with ≥5% nicotine strength was 61.3% of tobacco-flavor sales, 79.3% of menthol sales, 87.4% of mint sales, and 96.1% of other flavor sales. By product type, the percentage of units sold with ≥5% nicotine strength was 90.6% of disposable e-cigarette sales and 74.2% of prefilled cartridge sales. During January 2017-March 2022, the price of low-nicotine strength e-cigarettes increased, while the price of high-nicotine products either decreased or did not change.

Conclusions: Sales of high nicotine-strength e-cigarettes have dominated the US e-cigarette market. Limiting the nicotine strength of e-cigarettes could be considered as part of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy to reduce youth access to and use of these products.

Implications: The findings from this study indicate that previously reported increases in e-cigarette nicotine strength during 2013-2018 have continued through 2022. The US e-cigarette market sales continue to be dominated by relatively high-nicotine products. Strategies to address factors that make these products, particularly appealing to youth, including flavors and product innovations, are critical. Such strategies are important-as part of a comprehensive approach alongside other evidence-based population-level actions-to address youth e-cigarette use. Importantly, actions to reduce e-cigarette use among youth are not mutually exclusive from actions to maximize the potential benefits of e-cigarettes for increasing smoking cessation among adults.