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January 8, 2015

Majority of E-Liquids Labeled Incorrectly

Pam Davenport - Email

Nicholas Rupp - Email

(Salt Lake County)—In a study from the Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCoHD) and the Center for Human Toxicology at the University of Utah, researchers found that 73 out of 120 samples (61%) differed by at least 10% from the labeled nicotine content, with discrepancies that ranged from 88% less to 840% more than stated. The industry’s own American E-Liquid Manufacturing Standards Association requires that e-liquids produced be within +/-10% of the labeled nicotine content.

SLCoHD staff visited all 14 vape shops in Salt Lake County, as well as 16 randomly selected tobacco specialty stores, and collected 153 e-liquid samples; 120 of the samples listed a nicotine amount higher than zero and 33 listed the nicotine content as zero (scent/flavor only e-liquids). Of the 33 samples that listed the nicotine amount as zero, 32 contained less than 0.5mg/ml of nicotine and 1 sample contained 7.35mg/ml.

The health department also reviewed the availability of child-proof caps for e-liquids and found that more than a quarter of the samples (27.5%) that had listed amounts of nicotine did not have child-proof caps. The nicotine in e-liquids is a serious poisoning threat to children, with the Utah Poison Control Center reporting 131 calls related to e-liquids in 2014.

“Inaccurate labeling is alarming because consumers don’t know exactly what they’re taking into their bodies, or at what level,” said Kathy Garrett, tobacco prevention and cessation manager for SLCoHD. “It’s also a real concern for poison control center and emergency room staff, who don’t know if the labeled amount of nicotine in a bottle a child has ingested is accurate; that makes this a life-or-death problem.”

“These concerns are one reason why the health department is working this year on a new health regulation that will require a license to manufacture or sell e-liquids in Salt Lake County,” said Gary Edwards, executive director of SLCoHD. “A regulation will help ensure e-liquid safety standards, including accurate labeling of ingredients and nicotine levels and the presence of childproof caps.”

See the attached e-liquid fact sheet for additional information about the study.