Electronic cigarette liquid and device parameters and aerosol characteristics: A survey of regular users

Arit M. Harvanko, Andrea K. McCubbin, Kristin B. Ashford, Thomas H. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Introduction: Electronic cigarettes are widely variable devices, typically with user definable liquid and device parameters. Yet, little is known about how regular users manipulate these parameters. There is also limited understanding of what factors drive electronic cigarette use and liquid purchasing, and whether two common ingredients, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, alter the subjective effects of these devices. Methods: During the spring of 2016 522 adults, who reported daily use of electronic cigarettes containing nicotine, completed a survey on electronic cigarettes. Survey questions included an electronic cigarette dependence questionnaire, questions on tobacco and electronic cigarette use, and device and liquid preferences. Results: Fifty-nine percent of respondents reported using another tobacco product, which was positively associated with level of nicotine dependence. On average, devices were set to 28.3 (SD = 24.2) watts. Ability to change device voltage, and level of resistance typically used, was significantly associated with level of nicotine dependence. Amount of liquid consumed, nicotine concentration, and milligrams of nicotine used per week, were positively associated with nicotine dependence. Participants rated ‘good taste’ as the most important consideration when using and purchasing liquids, and propylene glycol is associated with undesirable effects and vegetable glycerin with desirable effects. Conclusions: These data indicate that electronic cigarette users utilize a wide range device parameter settings and liquid variables, and that individuals with greater nicotine dependence favor voltage control devices, and lower resistance heating elements. Taste is a key factor for electronic cigarette selection, and concentrations of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin may have a significant impact on the reinforcing effects of liquids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-206
Number of pages6
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Abuse liability
  • Nicotine
  • Propylene glycol
  • Taste
  • Vegetable
  • Wattage
  • glycerin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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