Despite scientific uncertainty regarding the relative safety of inhaling e-cigarette aerosol and flavorings, some consumers regard the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) designation as evidence of flavoring safety. In this study, we assessed how college students’ perceptions of e-cigarette flavoring safety are related to understanding of the GRAS designation. During spring 2017, an online questionnaire was administered to college students. Chi-square p
-values and multivariable logistic regression were employed to compare perceptions among participants considering e-cigarette flavorings as safe and those considering e-cigarette flavorings to be unsafe. The total sample size was 567 participants. Only 22% knew that GRAS designation meant that a product is safe to ingest, not inhale, inject, or use topically. Of participants who considered flavorings to be GRAS, the majority recognized that the designation meant a product is safe to ingest but also considered it safe to inhale. Although scientific uncertainty on the overall safety of flavorings in e-cigarettes remains, health messaging can educate the public about the GRAS designation and its irrelevance to e-cigarette safety.
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