Vaping altering senses: study

University of Otago research has found vaping may cause a distaste for "sweet" smells. PHOTO:...
University of Otago research has found vaping may cause a distaste for "sweet" smells. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
A distaste for "sweet" smells may be an unexpected side effect of vaping, new University of Otago research says.

A study carried out with more than 200 participants who vaped regularly, occasionally or never aimed to assess the potential impact of vaping on taste and smell.

Department of Food Science researcher Dr Jessica McCormack said results showed non-vapers found "sweet" smells more pleasant than vapers did.

Ms McCormack said the distaste may be a result of vapers being over exposed to sweet vape flavours, which were the most popular.

During the study, participants rated the pleasantness and the intensity of smell and taste samples and did a sensory detection test where they had to guess between plain water and the taste or the smell at a very low concentration.

Dr McCormack said the results were fascinating because a smell dysfunction and taste changes in vapers was consistent with studies of smokers.

"We still have more we need to know about what the mechanisms might be here — is it related to the use of flavours or nicotine or a combination?"

She said nicotine enhanced reinforcement stimuli and the absence of nicotine may have made sweet smells seem less pleasant.

Dr Mei Peng, the study’s senior author, said the findings also had implications on how vaping affected eating behaviours among the younger population.

The study was conducted in collaboration with the National Institute for Health Innovation and published in the journal Appetite.