E-cigarettes and weight loss - Product design innovation insights from industry patents

Harkirat Singh, Ryan David Kennedy, Lisa Lagasse, Lauren M. Czaplicki, Joanna E Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: There is emerging evidence that e-cigarettes are being used by some to mitigate weight gain after quitting smoking, and being used to help control weight. This study sought to identify and describe patents related to innovations for e-cigarette devices associated and weight loss. Methods: Relevant patents were identified using Google Patents with the core search terms: "electronic cigarette" OR "e-cigarette" OR "vaporizer" OR "vapourizer" AND "nicotine" AND "weight loss" OR "weight control" OR "obesity" OR "hunger". Patents were reviewed to identify and classify the innovation related to weight loss or weight control. Results: Our search identified 23 unique patents that were filed between 2004 and 2015. Patent applications were sponsored by individual inventors (n = 7), tobacco companies (n = 5), e-cigarette companies (n = 8), pharmaceutical companies (n = 2) and a cannabis company (n = 1). More than half the patents (n = 12) were filed in the United States; other countries included China, Germany, South Korea, and South Africa. Strategies included using e-cigarette devices to deliver constituents to users that support weight loss through altered metabolism, reduced nutrient absorption, suppressed appetite, or supported healthy behavior change. In most cases (n = 18), the innovations detailed in the patents were intended to be used with an e-cigarette device that delivered nicotine to the user. Conclusions: Companies from around the world, and from a range of industries are developing and patenting technologies related to e-cigarettes and weight loss. E-cigarettes may be presented to cigarette users as a possible solution to support smoking cessation and address the fear of weight gain. Implications: This article presents evidence that a range of industries are innovating to design e-cigarettes or constituents to be used with e-cigarettes to deliver a variety of drugs beyond nicotine including weight loss drugs, laxatives, and nutritional supplements. This study may inform surveillance studies to systematically include weight loss as a possible motivation to use e-cigarettes. Further, market surveillance of e-cigarette products needs to monitor ingredients in e-liquids including constituents that have been historically used for weight loss or weight control. Regulations around e-cigarette marketing, promotion, product design including e-liquid constituents need to consider weight loss claims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1010-1014
Number of pages5
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Volume20
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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