PrintSmoke - Fingerprinting of Smoke and Vape Products

Last updated on 21-9-2023 by Eric Deconinck
Project duration:
October 1, 2022
September 30, 2026

In short

The legislation for vaping and smoking products is quite clear, but tools are necessary to check the adherence of products to this legislation.
The PrintSmoke project focusses on three types of products: e-liquids for vaping, tobacco and herbal smoking products. In this project we develop approaches in order to help inspection services and law enforcement to: 

  • check the conformity of products towards the legislation. 
  • decide which products to seize during inspection in shops or e.g. in night life settings. 

Project description

The legislation of vaping, tobacco and herbal smoking products is quite detailed, but it is not easy for inspection services and law enforcement services to check if products comply with the legislation. Therefore, this project focuses on the development of analytical approaches allowing these services to check the conformity of products towards the legislation and help them decide which products to seize, both at inspection sites or in night life settings. 

Firstly, we focus on the development of (portable) spectroscopic approaches to check:

  1. the nicotine content in e-liquids and the presence of ‘illegal’ additives, like caffeine, cannabidiol, taurine and vitamin E, 
  2. the adulteration of tobacco with Cannabis Sativa Spp,
  3. the presence of tobacco in herbal smoking products and finally,
  4. the presence of illegal additives in tobacco products. 

The proposed approaches are based on spectroscopy combined with chemometric modelling techniques in order to extract maximum information from the spectroscopic data and link it to the factors that need to be checked. 

Secondly, we use (multi-dimensional) chromatographic fingerprinting to try to solve another issue of the inspection services, namely the variety composition of tobacco blends. These compositions have to be reported to the FPS for Health and Environment and should be correct for all products sold by the manufacturer under this declaration. Here, we develop fingerprints focusing on the difference between varieties and combining different detection techniques (DAD and mass spectrometry). Again, we use chemometrics to model the data and to extract maximum information related to the presence of targeted varieties. 

Overall, the objectives of the project revolve around utilising spectroscopic and chromatographic approaches to evaluate the composition and authenticity of smoking- and vaping products and detect forbidden additives and adulterants. 

Sciensano's project investigator(s):

Service(s) working on this project


Erwin Adams
Cédric Delporte

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