Caffeine Concentrations in Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, and Energy Drink Flavored E-liquids.Nicotine Tob Res. 2017 Apr 01; 19(4):484-492.NT
Most electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) contain a solution of propylene glycol/glycerin and nicotine, as well as flavors. E-cigarettes and their associated e-liquids are available in numerous flavor varieties. A subset of the flavor varieties include coffee, tea, chocolate, and energy drink, which, in beverage form, are commonly recognized sources of caffeine. Recently, some manufacturers have begun marketing e-liquid products as energy enhancers that contain caffeine as an additive.
A Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) method for the quantitation of caffeine in e-liquids was developed, optimized and validated. The method was then applied to assess caffeine concentrations in 44 flavored e-liquids from cartridges, disposables, and refill solutions. Products chosen were flavors traditionally associated with caffeine (ie, coffee, tea, chocolate, and energy drink), marketed as energy boosters, or labeled as caffeine-containing by the manufacturer.
Caffeine was detected in 42% of coffee-flavored products, 66% of tea-flavored products, and 50% of chocolate-flavored e-liquids (limit of detection [LOD] - 0.04 µg/g). Detectable caffeine concentrations ranged from 3.3 µg/g to 703 µg/g. Energy drink-flavored products did not contain detectable concentrations of caffeine. Eleven of 12 products marketed as energy enhancers contained caffeine, though in widely varying concentrations (31.7 µg/g to 9290 µg/g).
E-liquid flavors commonly associated with caffeine content like coffee, tea, chocolate, and energy drink often contained caffeine, but at concentrations significantly lower than their dietary counterparts. Estimated daily exposures from all e-cigarette products containing caffeine were much less than ingestion of traditional caffeinated beverages like coffee.
This study presents an optimized and validated method for the measurement of caffeine in e-liquids. The method is applicable to all e-liquid matrices and could potentially be used to ensure regulatory compliance for those geographic regions that forbid caffeine in e-cigarette products. The application of the method shows that caffeine concentrations and estimated total caffeine exposure from e-cigarette products is significantly lower than oral intake from beverages. However, because very little is known about the effects of caffeine inhalation, e-cigarette users should proceed with caution when using caffeine containing e-cigarette products. Further research is necessary to determine associated effects from inhaling caffeine.