Roswell Park Researchers Present Findings of 2 E-Cigarette Studies at SRNT Meeting

Studies provide new evidence on ‘thirdhand’ exposure to nicotine, accuracy of product labels

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Scientists from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (Roswell Park) have conducted two recent studies to evaluate the nicotine content and thirdhand nicotine exposure from electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD, of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park is presenting the findings of both studies at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, which continues through Saturday, Feb. 8 in Seattle, Wash.

E-cigarette users inhale a vapor containing addictive nicotine and other products through a battery-operated device that looks similar to a traditional cigarette. The sales of e-cigarettes in the U.S. have doubled each year since 2008.

“The public health community agrees that more scientific inquiry is needed to understand the potential health impact of e-cigarettes,” said Dr. Goniewicz. “These studies add to the growing body of scientific evidence that will help to define and delineate a product that is broadly used indoors and is advertised and sold without restrictions.”

Thirdhand Nicotine Exposure from E-Cigarettes

In the first study, “Assessment of Thirdhand Exposure to Nicotine From Electronic Cigarettes” (abstract POS1-6), the Roswell Park team evaluated levels of nicotine released from e-cigarettes and deposited on surfaces. This residue left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke is often referred to as “thirdhand smoke.”

Researchers analyzed three brands of e-cigarettes filled with varying nicotine concentrations. The e-cigarettes were smoked, or “vaped,” with a syringe in an exposure chamber. Nicotine levels on five surfaces of the smoking chamber were measured. The surfaces included glass, floors, walls, windows, wood and metal.

Three out of four experiments showed significant yet varying increases in nicotine found on the five surfaces. The floor and glass windows had the greatest increases in nicotine residue. Dr. Goniewicz and colleagues concluded that future research should explore the risks of exposure to carcinogens posed by third-hand exposure from e-cigarettes.

E-Cigarette Nicotine Labels

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate e-cigarettes. A second study by the Goniewicz team, “Consistency of Labeled Nicotine Content in Electronic Cigarettes: Regulatory Challenges” (abstract POS2-40), measured nicotine concentrations in 32 e-cigarette refill solutions. The researchers then compared the quantity of nicotine in the refills to the amount specified on the product labels.

The study found that labeling of nicotine content on e-cigarette refill solution was accurate in most cases. However, they also found e-cigarette packaging that may be misleading to consumers and can cause involuntary exposure to high doses of nicotine. One in four products differed in nicotine concentration by more than 20% from the value indicated on product labels. And nicotine was found to be present in some refill solutions labeled as nicotine-free.

“Research conducted by Roswell Park scientists provides a valuable contribution and insight into the content and marketing of e-cigarettes,” noted Andrew Hyland, PhD, Chair of Roswell Park’s Department of Health Behavior. “This science can inform health policy organizations as they determine e-cigarette regulations, which can and should include smoke-free policies and standards for accurate labeling.”

Dr. Goniewicz is also co-moderator of a panel discussion on dual use of electronic and tobacco cigarettes.

The Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) is an association of nicotine and tobacco researchers, with more than 1,000 members in 45 countries. Its mission is “to stimulate the generation and dissemination of new knowledge concerning nicotine and tobacco in all its manifestations, from cell to society.” For more information on the SRNT, visit the organization’s website,


The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, Roswell Park is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit, call 1-877-ASK-Roswell Park (1-877-275-7724) or email Follow Roswell Park on Facebook and Twitter.

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