Former tobacco smokers find e-cigarettes less addictive than traditional cigarettes, new research finds.

Even though they “smoke” e-cigarettes as often as they did regular cigarettes, thousands of ex-smokers said they have fewer cravings and are less likely to feel impulsive and irritable over their need to smoke, researchers reported.

“The pattern was really very clear. The score was significantly less for e-cig use than for tobacco use,” said lead researcher Jonathan Foulds, a professor of public health sciences and psychiatry at Penn State College of Medicine. “E-cig users feel less addicted.”

For this study, published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, the researchers used an online survey to assess more than 3,600 e-cig users’ previous dependence on cigarettes and their current dependence on e-cigarettes.

The ex-smokers, all of whom now use e-cigarettes, reported their smoking is about the same. They have about 24 sessions a day with e-cigarettes, and used to smoke about 24 cigarettes daily.

However, their dependence on e-cigarettes is much different:

They are more likely to wait longer for their first smoke of the day, 45 minutes on average compared to 27 minutes when they used cigarettes.

Two out of five would wake in the middle of the night to smoke a cigarette, but only about 7% continued to do so with e-cigarettes.

About one-third had strong cravings to use their e-cigarettes, compared with more than nine out of 10 when they smoked cigarettes.

About one-quarter reported being irritable or nervous when they can’t use e-cigarettes, versus more than 90%t who recalled feeling that way as cigarette smokers.

Possible Explanations

There are a couple of reasons why e-cigarettes might create less addiction to nicotine, Foulds said.

First, e-cigarettes typically are worse at delivering nicotine than tobacco cigarettes. “Blood nicotine levels get a much larger boost with smoking than with e-cigarettes,” he said.

How people use e-cigarettes also might help explain the difference.

Because people don’t have to light an e-cigarette, they are under less pressure to smoke in concentrated bouts, Foulds said.

“When you smoke cigarettes, you smoke it in one go. You go outside from your workplace and you take 10 puffs, you smoke it until it’s three-quarters done and then you throw it away,” he said. “With e-cigs, they take two or three puffs, and then wait 10 or 15 minutes and have another two or three puffs. It’s kind of like they’re grazing on it, rather than binging on it.”

Foes Weigh in

Health advocates said they found the study interesting, but remain reluctant to endorse e-cigarette use. The devices are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, although the agency has announced its intention to extend its tobacco authority to cover e-cigarettes.

Manufacturers of e-cigarettes are producing more powerful devices that deliver higher nicotine concentrations, said Erika Sward, assistant vice president of national advocacy for the American Lung Association.

Such innovations could increase the addictive powers of e-cigarettes, and concerns exist that e-cigarettes maintain nicotine dependence for people who might otherwise have quit smoking altogether, she said. Experts also worry that kids who use e-cigarettes might find them a “gateway drug” that leads to tobacco use.

The study authors noted that dependence might vary by liquid nicotine concentration, product characteristics and could increase with time.

Patricia Folan, director of the Center for Tobacco Control at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y. said, “there is some concern about comparing an individual’s past recollection of their addiction to traditional cigarettes with their current addiction to electronic devices.”

Web MD, HealthDay News

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *