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What Is Synthetic Nicotine?

What Is Synthetic Nicotine?

If you’ve been vaping for a long time or if you’re active in vape advocacy, there have been some proposed major changes for the vaping industry which may threaten the existence of the industry itself. You all know about PMTA and the constant threat of banning flavors save for tobacco and menthol. The vaping industry has chosen tobacco-free nicotine (TFN), or synthetic nicotine, as a potential workaround for regulations.

As of this writing, vapers are used to freebase nicotine. However, this could change in the coming months. The FDA has sought to take greater control of alternative nicotine products, namely vape juice. Therefore, the team is here to answer some of the burning questions: what is synthetic nicotine? What are the differences between synthetic nicotine and freebase nicotine? Why is synthetic nicotine under the watchful eye of the FDA and other anti-tobacco groups? What brands have made the switch to synthetic nicotine, and what brands are looking to switch in the future? Find out in this blog post.

What Is Synthetic Nicotine?

Synthetic nicotine is defined as nicotine not derived from the tobacco plant, and is also referred to as TFN. While nicotine is derived largely from the tobacco plant, it can also be found in smaller amounts in everyday foods such as tomatoes, green peppers, eggplants, potatoes, cauliflower, and even the coca plant. Synthetic nicotine can be created by scientists in a laboratory without the impurities of freebase (tobacco-derived) nicotine. While some alternative nicotine products already have synthetic nicotine, most vape juices use freebase nicotine, although many vape manufacturers have decided to swap to synthetic nicotine/TFN in the past year.

One company owns the trademark for synthetic nicotine/TFN:  Next Generation Labs. They could seek to profit greatly from this switch. According to Vincent Schuman, the CEO of Next Generation Labs, “All indications from the FDA confirm our long-held position: TFN nicotine products cannot be regulated under the Deeming Rule as they are not tobacco products, and we continue to believe that an open or closed system device for use with a choice of synthetic nicotine products will qualify as a non-tobacco product.”

Advantages of Synthetic Nicotine

In addition to not being regulated by the FDA, synthetic nicotine/TFN is purer than freebase nicotine derived from the tobacco plant. Some impurities exist in freebase nicotine, which may affect your vaping experience despite the majority of vape juices using freebase nicotine. By using synthetic nicotine/TFN, which is pure nicotine, it may improve the quality of the vaping experience overall and encourage those who are currently using traditional nicotine products to sample alternative nicotine products containing synthetic nicotine/TFN.

Next Generation Labs has provided a list of advantages of synthetic nicotine, which you can view below.

(Image courtesy of Next Generation Labs)

Why Is It Being Targeted By The FDA?


The FDA has made some statements on synthetic nicotine/TFN. However, to what extent it would be regulated still remains unclear to the general public. The FDA has stated it would review these products on a case-by-case basis, stopping short of saying that they will actually regulate synthetic nicotine/TFN. “E-liquids that do not contain nicotine or other substances made or derived from tobacco may still be components or parts and, therefore, subject to FDA’s tobacco control authorities,” the FDA has said.


The Tobacco Control Act of 2009 has placed vaping products under the control of the FDA and the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) specifically. Synthetic nicotine is not currently regulated by the FDA. Anti-vaping legislators across the United States could seek to target synthetic nicotine/TFN. With other issues in vape still unresolved, such as PMTA, anti-vaping legislators could see synthetic nicotine/TFN as a major talking point to advance their agenda.


Are Brands Switching To Synthetic Nicotine?

Brands are beginning to see the value of synthetic nicotine/TFN. This is both to anticipate regulation and to bring a higher quality vaping experience to customers. You can see what brands have adopted synthetic nicotine/TFN in our  synthetic nicotine vape juice collection on While NKTR was one of the first brands to switch to synthetic nicotine/TFN, the switch did not accelerate until after the FDA threatened to ban flavors derived from freebase nicotine. Some brands that have made the switch include Reds Apple eJuice, Air Factory, 
Noms eJuice, and Cloud Nurdz.


An example of a previously banned product that made the switch from traditional freebase nicotine to synthetic nicotine/TFN is Puff Bars, a popular disposable vape product. In July 2020, the FDA ordered Puff Bars off the market. Puff Bars returned in 2021 with a revamped formula that used synthetic nicotine/TFN.


We will be updating this page with any further developments about synthetic nicotine/TFN, so check back to make sure that you are up to date with the latest information!



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