October 2014

In Favor of Flavors


Three a Day (Flavors, That Is)

Naturally, all e-cigarette companies Tobacco Control researched offer various levels of nicotine in their flavors. That’s because flavor variability is “very important” to the vast majority of former smokers or dual users (of both cigarettes and e-cigs), according to another study authored by Konstantinos E. Farsalinos, Ph.D., (http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/10/12/7272) published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

This study, which interviewed more than 4,600 people, found most vapers use three different flavors on a regular basis. In fact, seven out of 10 respondents changed flavors at least once a day.

New vapers tend to start with tobacco flavors, but most eventually switch to fruit and sweet flavors. Among all users, fruit flavors were the most popular (69.4 percent), followed by


By Tom Schrier


Flavors are as essential to e-cigarettes as limes and tequila are to margaritas. No matter what the recipe, margaritas just gotta have tequila and lime juice.


Like margaritas, the quality of the ingredients also has a huge impact on the flavor. Cheap tequila can have a harsh, burnt taste. The same is true of nicotine. You can ruin a perfectly good margarita by using cheap tequila. And you can ruin a perfectly good e-liquid by using cheap nicotine that overpowers rather than enhances the overall flavor and experience.


The fact is: we love flavors in our e-cigarettes. Just take a look at the number of flavors now on the market: some 7,700 flavors are sold by 450 e-cigarette brands, according to a new survey published in Tobacco Control (http://tobacco
control.bmj.com/content/23/suppl_3/iii3.full
).


And, the flavor wave continues unabated; about 10 new brands and 242 new e-liquid flavors are being created every single month!


The list of flavors falls into several different categories. Most companies offer tobacco (93.4 percent) and menthol (92.1 percent) flavors. Fruit flavors (84.2 percent) also are very popular, followed by flavors inspired by dessert/candy (79.9 percent), alcohol/drinks (77.5 percent) and snacks/meals (25.7 percent).


sweet (61.4 percent), tobacco (43.9 percent), drinks/beverages (36.8 percent) and mint/menthol (31.8 percent) flavors.

If flavors were restricted, the vast majority (68.9 percent) said vaping would be less enjoyable. Restricting flavors could also have a negative impact on people trying to quit smoking. Almost half (48.5 percent) said that restricting favors would increase his or her craving for cigarettes, and nearly 40 percent said they would be less likely to reduce or quit smoking.

Every one of us in the industry is vehemently against any regulation that would restrict flavor variability. These studies clearly show that restricting flavors would only harm those who are trying to quit smoking. And, our detractors have yet to prove that restricting e-cigarette flavors would offer any positive public health benefits.


How Nicotine Affects Flavor
 
Saveurvape, one of the world’s largest producers and wholesale distributors of e-liquids, offers literally hundreds of different flavors.


“We’ve grown quickly because we offer a top shelf product,” Lonnie Bozeman, president of Saveurvape said. “We don't settle for anything that’s substandard.”


But, Bozeman said that they had a difficult time finding a nicotine vendor that offered a top shelf product.


“We’ve tried just about every nicotine vendor under the sun,” he said. “Some offered quick service but an inferior product; some had a good product but inferior service. We needed a solution that offered a consistently good product and good customer service. That’s how we ended up with NicSelect.”


Bozeman said they’ve been using NicSelect for more than two years, to rave customer reviews.


“We are always trying to achieve that ‘Wow!’ factor,” Bozeman said. “That’s why we start with the highest grade ingredients on the market, because it trickles down to the quality of the product.


“The best possible quality, ‘premium’ nicotine is also the smoothest,” he said. “You don’t want to taste the nicotine. It used to be something that was accepted—a necessary evil. But, there shouldn’t be a peppery taste when you’ve vaping strawberry. Now we have a product that offers nicotine’s effects without a harsh throat hit or spicy aftertaste.”


“We care about every drop that goes into our bottles and every product that goes out our doors,” said Dan Baker, president of Baker White, which makes 36 different flavors.


“We select only the finest ingredients for our premium line of juices,” he said, explaining that Baker White screens its flavor ingredients to ensure they’re free of diacetyl and other potentially harmful chemicals. Baker White’s top selling flavors are their bold and sweet Melon Baller, Strawberry Fields, Summer Tea (a blend of ice tea and lemonade) and Very Cherry.




Plays Well With Others


Rich Henning, president of NicVape, one of the first e-liquid companies to start using NicSelect, said putting the best quality nicotine in their e-liquids filled a unique niche at the time.


“Back then, there just wasn’t a reliable source of nicotine we could import into the U.S.,” Henning said. One of the things I really like about NicSelect is that it doesn’t have a lot of taste. It works well no matter what flavors we blend it with. Our customers tell us that the throat hit is really good and they can’t taste the nicotine in our e-liquids.”


One of NicVape’s most popular flavors is ‘Blue Suede Shoes.’


“It’s an homage to Elvis whose favorite snack was peanut butter and honey,” Henning said. “Everyone takes away something different from it; the inhale is a different experience from the exhale. It also plays really nicely with NicSelect.”


Another one of NicVape’s popular flavors is ‘Super Mint,’ which is a combination of several different mint and menthol flavors.


“Colin (Henning’s business partner) was trying to make a flavor that tasted like Newport cigarettes. Finally, in frustration, he grabbed five different mint and menthol flavors and combined them. And our distributors loved it!” Henning said.


NicVape’s chocolate mint flavor, ‘Jr. Mints Daddy,’ was the first and only non-tobacco flavor to be given five stars from Dr. Vapenstein, a popular e-liquid reviewer.


“The combination of the target flavor and the 25 mg nic level work together to provide a throat hit that is one of the best we've seen here in The Lab,” wrote Dr. Vapenstein. “I am not kidding, this juice is not kid's stuff. This juice is not afraid to hurt your feelings. It is the single most satisfying non-tobacco vape I have had in terms of initial impact.”


Vermillion River E-Juice also has dozens of flavors—72 and counting. Their goal is to offer at least 100 different flavors, according to Dave Pettis, Vermillion River owner.


Vermillion River’s staff samples every new flavor for several weeks before it’s sold to consumers. The final flavor is also tested for its nicotine titration level as well as any substances that could potentially be harmful if vaped frequently.


“Most people judge the quality of nicotine by its smell and clarity, but scientifically and chemically, it’s not the true test of quality,” Pettis said. “Color actually doesn’t tell you anything. Purity is the most important proof of quality. “And as particular as we are about our flavoring, we need every single ingredient to be the highest quality.”

Tom Schrier is V.P. of Alchem International, maker of NicSelect premium nicotine.