People who take up e-cigarettes in an effort to stop smoking should consider upping the nicotine dose they get by using them daily, scientists have said.
Two new research papers suggest e-cigarettes may help smokers trying to kick the habit, but only if they are used every day, instead of infrequently. It may also be more beneficial to use the versions with refillable “tanks”, which could deliver a higher dose of nicotine.
There is much controversy around the potential for e-cigarettes to help people quit smoking, even though it is estimated that the devices are up to 95% less harmful than cigarette smoking. Some critics believe e-cigarettes are a stalking horse for the tobacco industry, which is now involved in manufacturing “cigalikes” – the type of e-cigarette that often resembles a standard cigarette.
The studies were based on a survey of more than 1,500 smokers in December 2012, which was then followed up on a year later. The first study, published in the journal Addiction, found that 65% of those who were using an e-cigarette on a daily basis went on to make an attempt to give up smoking within the year, compared with 44% of smokers who were not using e-cigarettes. There was no evidence that daily e-cigarette users were more likely to have managed to get rid of a tobacco habit by the end of a year, but 14% had reduced their tobacco consumption by at least half.
The second study, published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research, found that people trying to quit smoking were more successful if they used a refillable tank model of e-cigarette, which allows the user to vary the nicotine content and flavours in the liquid it contains. Only 25% of the 587 e-cigarette users had tank models which they used daily, but of these, 28% had given up tobacco smoking after a year compared with 13% of smokers who did not use e-cigarettes. The numbers who gave up while using cigalikes, or using tank models on an occasional basis, were similar to those who did not use e-cigarettes at all.
From Sarah Boseley Health editor,
Monday 20 April 2015 19.01 EDT