Those who have struggled to quit smoking are probably not surprised to hear that anything is less addictive than traditional cigarettes; cigarette smoking is often described as one of the hardest addiction to kick. While sometimes e-cigarettes get the same bad rap as regular smoking does, a new study is showing that they are not only healthier but far less addictive than their combustible counterparts.
The new study published in the journal, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, has found that e-cigarettes are in fact less addictive than regular tobacco smokes.
Study author, Jonathan Foulds, professor of public health sciences and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine, summed up the results of the study: “We found that e-cigarettes appear to be less addictive than tobacco cigarettes in a large sample of long-term users.”
The study consisted of an online questionnaire given to former smokers, who now use e-cigarettes. The survey contained questions that were intended to assess the user’s reliance on cigarettes in the past as well as to determine their current reliance on vaping devices. Over 3,500 current users of e-cigs were included in this study.
The scientist did, however, find that e-liquids with higher concentrations of nicotine do produce a greater chance of dependence on the device. The use of second-generation e-cigs, which deliver nicotine more efficiently than the original models, also produced higher odds of dependence. In addition, those who had used e-cigarettes longer than others, demonstrated a greater appearance of addiction.
Even with this said, Foulds is quick to point out that overall the addiction levels seem much lower than that of regular cigarette users, stating, “people with all the characteristics of a more dependent e-cig user still had a lower e-cig dependence score than their cigarette dependence score.” Foulds attributes this to controllable nicotine levels. “We think this is because they’re getting less nicotine from the e-cigs than they were getting from cigarettes.”
E-cigarettes are effective in the area of harm reduction, offering a much safer alternative for users looking to quit or to replace traditional cigarettes. One of the major benefits of e-cigarettes is it gives you the ability to control the levels of nicotine that you have in your e-liquids and in the end that you are inhaling into your system. Users looking to quit can even gradually lower the nicotine level to help them kick the habit altogether.
The study showed that many e-cigarette users say they do use the products as a way to help them quit. While the FDA has not officially approved them as a cessation aid, even the organization like the American Heart Association have publically approved them as a method to aid in the battle to quit smoking.
As with most issues relating to e-cigarettes, we simply do not have enough time to have significant data about the product, as it’s only been on the market for around seven years. Foulds agrees, but realizes that we can speak to the health benefits based on what data we do have. “We don’t have long-term health data of e-cig use yet, but any common sense analysis says that e-cigs are much less toxic,” Foulds said. “And our paper shows that they appear to be much less addictive, as well. So in both measures they seem to have advantages when you’re concerned about health.”
This study couldn’t be released at a better time, when another new study has been recently released showing that cigarettes, despite all the warnings, are still killing a large amount of American. The new study looked at numbers from the National Health Interview Survey, which looked at cancer deaths caused by smoking cigarettes: “Our results indicate that cigarette smoking causes about three in 10 cancer deaths in the contemporary United States,” the study reads. This study is only proving what we have known for over 50 years since the Surgeon General first released warnings on cigarettes. E-cigarettes, however, could help reduce this number by helping people kick the habit.
Foulds, while cognizant of the benefits of e-cigarettes, remains neutrally aligned, and agrees with some opponents that e-cigarettes need regulation. “This is a new class of products that’s not yet regulated. It has the potential to do good and help a lot of people quit, but it also has the potential to do harm. Continuing to smoke and use e-cigarettes may not reduce health risks. Kids who have never smoked might begin nicotine addiction with e-cigs. There’s a need for a better understanding of these products.” Having a larger understanding of e-cigarettes is coming, especially as more and more studies are conducted. The findings from the study in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, are exactly the kinds of findings that will help e-cigarettes develop further as recreational devices and as cessation aids.
Foulds identifies the potential future of e-cigarettes, especially as devices to help people quit smoking: “We might need e-cigarettes that are better at delivering nicotine because that’s what’s more, likely to help people quit.” Helping people quit, while being a healthier alternative may be exactly what so many people who want to kick the habit are looking for.
If e-cigarettes are successful as a stop smoking aid, and a person can quit smoking by replacing them with e-cigarettes they not only are making a healthier choice, they are also replacing their habit with something proven to be less addictive than the combustible version. Either way, whether the e-cigarettes are just used as a replacement, or if the person eventually quits altogether, the user who switches to e-cigarettes is choosing a healthier lifestyle for themselves and those around them.
It’s not a huge surprise that e-cigarettes are less addictive than regular cigarettes; most users can tell you this without the results of a study. Studies like this one, however, are important in the fight to keep e-cigarettes open and available, as they are now, rather than them becoming bashed and roped into the same category as their combustible forefathers. E-cigarettes are less addictive, cheaper, and better than tobacco for those around you; eventually enough of these studies will come out so that maybe the critics will finally believe it too.