Synthetic Cooling Agents in US-marketed E-cigarette Refill Liquids and Popular Disposable E-cigarettes: Chemical Analysis and Risk Assessment.Nicotine Tob Res. 2022 06 15; 24(7):1037-1046.NT
Menthol, through its cooling and pleasant sensory effects, facilitates smoking and tobacco product initiation, resulting in the high popularity of mint/menthol-flavored E-cigarettes. More recently, E-cigarette vendors started marketing synthetic cooling agents as additives that impart a cooling effect but lack a characteristic minty odor. Knowledge about content of synthetic coolants in US-marketed E-cigarette products and associated health risks is limited.
AIMS AND METHODS
E-liquid vendor sites were searched with the terms "koolada", "kool/cool", "ice", or WS-3/WS-23, denoting individual cooling agents, and relevant refill E-liquids were purchased. "Ice" flavor varieties of Puffbar, the most popular disposable E-cigarette brand, were compared with non-"Ice" varieties. E-liquids were characterized, and synthetic coolants quantified using GC/MS. Margin of exposure (MOE), a risk assessment parameter, was calculated to assess the risk associated with synthetic coolant exposure from E-cigarette use.
WS-3 was detected in 24/25 refill E-liquids analyzed. All Puffbar flavor varieties contained either WS-23 (13/14) or WS-3 (5/14), in both "Ice"- and non-"Ice" flavors. Modeling consumption of WS-3 from vaped E-liquids, resulted in MOEs below the safe margin of 100 for most daily use scenarios. MOEs for WS-23 were <100 for 10/13 Puffbar flavors in all use scenarios. Puffbar power specifications are identical to Juul devices.
Synthetic cooling agents (WS-3/WS-23) were present in US-marketed E-cigarettes, at levels that may result in consumer exposures exceeding safety thresholds set by regulatory agencies. Synthetic coolants are not only found in mint- or menthol-flavored products but also in fruit- and candy-flavored products, including popular disposable E-cigarette products such as Puffbar.
Synthetic cooling agents are widely used in "kool/cool"- and "ice"-flavored E-liquids and in E-liquids without these labels, both as a potential replacement for menthol or to add cooling "notes" to nonmenthol flavors. These agents may be used to bypass current and future regulatory limits on menthol content in tobacco products, and not just E-cigarettes. Because synthetic cooling agents are odorless, they may not fall under the category of "characterizing flavor", potentially circumventing regulatory measures based on this concept. Regulators need to consider the additional health risks associated with exposure to synthetic cooling agents.