August 23, 2019 6 min read

What motivates many of us in the vaping industry is a more noble calling than you might imagine: Helping people quit traditional cigarettes and offsetting the leading cause of preventable death. In fact, a recent study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital (See Study Results Here) showed there is growing evidence that e-cigarettes have a powerful impact in this area. It concluded that the daily use of electronic cigarettes over the course of a year helped smokers quit the traditional habit for greater than a year more effectively than those who didn’t use e-cigarettes as often.

“This finding suggests that smokers who use e-cigarettes to quit smoking need to use them regularly — every day — for these products to be most helpful,” said lead author Sara Kalkhoran, an MGH physician and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS).-Harvard Gazette

We here at Five Pawns strongly believe that flavored e-cigarettes help more people to quit smoking because a flavor may make it easier for someone to latch onto vaping more quickly, helping to end the traditional habit faster.

Flavors also matter for a myriad of other reasons. As someone who may have tried a variety of them, what are your favorite e-liquid flavors? Why do these e-liquid flavors matter to you?

Some in the traditional tobacco world say vaping is just a hobby. But I think there is much more to it than this. In recent years, many new e-liquid aromas have popped up. Some e-liquids are uniquely sweet, traditionally made with a delicious blend of e-liquid ingredients, while others are single-flavored. Why do we gravitate towards certain vape flavors and stay away from others?

Modern science informs us that taste is multisensory and that the various aspects of sensory input undoubtedly affect our flavor choices. We are naturally born with five taste perceptions: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami (savory). These tastes undoubtedly live on our tongue, sending signals called neurotransmitters to our complex brain when we instantly perceive a certain taste. Working together, neurotransmitters and pleasant aromas tell each of us precisely which flavors are palatable, and which are not. And those perceptions differ for every one of us.

Within the evapor industry, there are varying opinions about different e-liquid flavor categories. Some vape enthusiasts say there are four main categories, while others say there are in fact six; some studies have suggested there may be as many as forty-three. Some of these include fruits, tobacco, desserts, beverages (of the alcoholic variety), candy, menthols and “single flavor.” For the beginner, I would say try a little of every category to see what you like and what you don’t. It could be that a beginner vaper will gravitate toward fruity e-liquid blends because of a sweet tooth, or perhaps those e-liquids that offer more of a menthol or tobacco flavor (particularly if he or she is trying to quit cigarettes). A 2018 study by Dr. Constantinos Farsalinos and his colleague, Dr. Konstantinos Poulas revealed that more vaping enthusiasts prefer sweet e-liquid flavors than menthol or tobacco e-liquid flavors. But your taste buds will let your brain know what flavor category you like; you can then focus on that going forward.

With the constantly-changing tobacco industry and its ever-growing regulations, the smoking world has had to evolve quickly to satisfy a growing culture of e-cig aficionados with…well, let's just say, a more refined palate. Like most adults, our palate widens and becomes more adventurous as we age. New food experiences genuinely excite us. Whether we are passionate vegans, paleo devotees or traditional carnivores, most of us crave new tastes and smells to keep things interesting. A published study by the Oxford Academic counted and categorized 43 main flavor categories and 7500 total e-liquid flavors. But this impressive number of e-liquid flavors is growing faster every month.

According to science, flavor is equally affected by our perception and what that perception might mean to us. Neurogastronomy is the study of this and the ways flavor affects cognition and memory. But according to the leading research behind neurogastronomy, comfort foods can uniquely determine our favorite flavors. Why? As mentioned earlier, our complex brains typically correlate memorable moments with what we taste and smell at those times. When we consume our ultimate comfort food, we feel instantly connected to someone or something. We feel upbeat and less stressed. We then tend to purchase these same food flavors over and over again because of how they make us feel.

For the vaping enthusiast, the delicious aroma of certain e-liquid flavors probably triggers fond memories - and for many, gently reminds us of events we’d rather forget. Compared to a conventional cigarette, e-liquids smell a whole lot better! The tobacco smell of the conventional cigarette subtly reminds many vapers of their parents, grandparents, and their former self. This is precisely what I recall when I smell a cigarette. As a child, my mother happily smoked Virginia Slims on our back porch. My clothes would have a vile smell afterward, and obviously, I didn’t like it. Now, the aroma and exotic taste of scotch whiskey is something I enjoy immensely. Growing up my father was a scotch aficionado and once I became of age he would always try and get me to have one with him. One evening I finally acquiesced. We went to a nice dinner before a baseball game and we shared our first scotch. My dad was so happy and we had an amazing night. Since then it has become a tradition that when we get together we always peel off from the group, sit down and enjoy our favorite beverage. The psychological dynamic of comfort foods and drinks and how these typically make us feel happy drives our brains to compartmentalize every emotional experience we have, binding them in our minds with “personal flavors.” That’s why to me, flavors matter because they stir up personal memories that can't be replaced with anything else.

Vaping enthusiasts enjoy their favorite e-liquid flavors not only as a result of the tastes and smells they deliver. They revel in them because, like comfort foods, these e-liquid flavors remind them of pleasant and memorable times. Influencing and sharing e-liquid flavors makes them feel good inside. These shared experiences make us feel closer to each other. Our personal circle of faithful friends and close family members are important for our personal well-being.

As vaping enthusiasts, we expect premium e-liquid ingredients. There are undoubtedly many e-liquid manufacturers in the vape industry, but many either use inexpensive e-liquid ingredients that radically alter the unique flavor of a vape or their manufacturing process is not up to standard. Some of the reasons why a vape may be of poor-tasting quality include artificial taste, added sucralose or a synthetic sugary taste, low-quality nicotine or the fact that many manufacturers do not steep their e-liquids to allow it to settle – similar to the process of creating fine wine.

Reputable vape manufacturers typically hire the best chemists and purchase the highest grade PG, VG, and flavor ingredients. Why do they intentionally take the time and this added expense? These premium e-liquid manufacturers simply want you to experience what they have — a unique, handcrafted e-liquid that evokes passionate feelings — those of emotional connection and personal satisfaction. The premium e-liquid manufacturer is a true connoisseur of flavor and what inevitably makes them special. These flavor masters cater to their fellow vape connoisseurs. And these vape connoisseurs can decipher an inexpensive brand from a premium e-liquid brand. They can recognize the uncompromised smell and impeccable taste of gourmet e-liquids, manufactured from the molecule up with no artificial sweeteners or bitter aftertastes. These independent experts are hard to fool!

Vape connoisseurs don’t vape just to vape. They do it for the experience – a personal one enhanced by premium ingredients that stir up an emotional response. They vape with sophisticated flavors that can be genuinely shared with peers. They vape for an experience that matters to them. But perhaps most importantly, many do it as a way to curb a dangerous traditional cigarette smoking habit and research has proven that e-liquids really help with that crucial goal. So whether you vape tobacco e-liquids or sweet e-liquid blends…enjoy your flavor…because it really does matter.

-Five Pawns

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