This study combines chemical analysis and flavour descriptions of flavour additives used in tobacco products, and provides a starting point to build an extensive library of flavour components, useful for product surveillance.Methods
Headspace gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was used to compare 22 commercially available tobacco products (cigarettes and roll-your-own) expected to have a characterising flavour and 6 commercially available products not expected to have a characterising flavour with 5 reference products (natural tobacco leaves and research cigarettes containing no flavour additives). The flavour components naturally present in the reference products were excluded from components present in commercially available products containing flavour additives. A description of the remaining flavour additives was used for categorisation.Results
GC-MS measurements of the 33 tobacco products resulted in an overview of 186 chemical compounds. Of these, 144 were solely present in commercially available products. These 144 flavour additives were described using 62 different flavour descriptors extracted from flavour databases, which were categorised into eight groups largely based on the definition of characterising flavours from the European Tobacco Product Directive: fruit, spice, herb, alcohol, menthol, sweet, floral and miscellaneous.Conclusions
We developed a method to identify and describe flavour additives in tobacco products. Flavour additives consist of single flavour compounds or mixtures of multiple flavour compounds, and different combinations of flavour compounds can cause a certain flavour. A flavour library helps to detect flavour additives that are characteristic for a certain flavour, and thus can be useful for regulation of flavours in tobacco and related products.