New research released at the ATS 2022 international conference, reported that vape manufacturers are using potentially dangerous levels of the synthetic cooling agents WS-3 and WS-23 in vaping products in the US.
Since mint and menthol-flavoured tobacco products are highly popular due to their “cooling” effect, vape manufacturers have started using synthetic versions of the flavour and adding them to e-liquids. However, added the researchers, to date there is very limited knowledge about the content of such coolants and their health risks.
“In a prior study we discovered that a synthetic cooling agent, WS-3, was added to Juul electronic cigarettes marketed in Europe,” said study author Sven Jordt, PhD, associate professor in anesthesiology and associate professor of pharmacology and cancer biology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina. “Juul was the most popular e-cigarette brand at the time. This led us to explore whether synthetic cooling agents are also added to electronic cigarettes marketed in the United States.”
The effects of certain flavours on the brain
Meanwhile, an older US study published in eNeuro, an open access journal for the Society of Neuroscience, had indicated that a commonly used green apple e-liquid flavour- the flavourant farnesene, triggers reward-related behavior by promoting high-sensitivity nAChRs in the ventral tegmental area of the brain.
In simple terms, this means that this compound makes this flavour addictive. “With or without nicotine, flavoured vapes pose potential risks for the brain and addiction,” said lead study author Skylar Cooper. Cooper, who is a research technician Austin Akers and her research team, split study subjects (mice) in 3 groups. One group was given nicotine, another the green apple flavourant farnesene or both, and the third a saline solution.
The researchers found that Farnesene was rewarding by itself, as mice chose the farnesene chamber over the saline chamber. However, farnesene was also found to enhance the reward level even more when mixed with nicotine.