Reducing attractiveness of e-liquids: proposal for a restrictive list of tobacco-related flavourings

Tob Control. 2024 Mar 19;33(e1):e41-e47. doi: 10.1136/tc-2022-057764.


Objective: Electronic cigarettes are addictive and harmful, and flavour is a key factor determining their abuse liability. Both adult smokers and young non-smokers like sweet and fruity flavours in particular. In order to discourage e-cigarette use among youth, the Dutch government announced in 2020 to only allow tobacco flavours in e-liquids. We propose a restrictive list of flavourings that will only enable the production of e-liquids with a tobacco flavour.

Methods: We used e-liquid ingredient data notified via the European Common Entry Gate system before the government's announcement. First, we classified all e-liquids into flavour categories, and continued with the set of flavourings present in tobacco e-liquids. Five selection criteria related to prevalence of use, chemical composition, flavour description and health effects were defined to compile a restrictive list of tobacco flavourings.

Results: E-liquids marketed as having tobacco flavour contained 503 different flavourings, some with tobacco flavour, but also other (such as sweet) flavours. We excluded (1) 330 flavourings used in <0.5% of e-liquids, (2) 77 used less frequently in tobacco than in all e-liquids, (3) 13 plant extracts, (4) 60 that are sweet or not associated with a tobacco flavour and (5) 7 flavourings with hazardous properties. This resulted in a final list of 16 flavourings.

Conclusions: Implementing this restrictive list will likely discourage e-cigarette use among youth, but could also make e-cigarettes less attractive as smoking cessation aid.

Keywords: Electronic nicotine delivery devices; Public policy; Toxicology.

MeSH terms

  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Flavoring Agents
  • Humans
  • Smokers
  • Smoking Cessation* / methods
  • Tobacco Products*
  • Vaping*


  • Flavoring Agents