This might come as a surprise for some, but according to recent research people who used to smoke combustible tobacco find electronic cigarettes to be less addictive. Despite the fact that they are puffing on these gizmos at the same rate as they would on their combustible counterparts, many ex-smokers stated that they have far less nicotine cravings on a daily basis and odds are they would feel less irritable and less likely to feel impulsive over the need to vape.
The research took place at Penn State College of Medicine and lead researcher, Prof. Jonathan Foulds believes that the pattern is very clear. The overall results indicate a much lower ecig usage score than in the case of smoking on tobacco, so the conclusion is obvious that users of electronic cigarettes are less hooked on nicotine and on vaping in general.
The e-cig boom
E-cigarettes noticed a boom in popularity in the past five years, note the researchers, and they are basically battery operated devices that – thorough the help of a heating element – turn a nicotine base solution (called e-liquid or e-juice) into a flavored mist that the users puff on. The fact that they mimic the whole smoking process to the last detail is crucial in helping people cut down and ultimately quick on tobacco. However, as many scientists agree that these devices contain far less cancer causing chemicals than combustible cigarettes, their effects on the long term are still unknown and many studies are required in order to get a general picture.
Surveying a big number of users
This study was published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research and it surveyed a number of 3,600 users of electronic cigarettes with questions about their former tobacco addiction and their new e-cig dependence. All the ex-smokers that have totally made the switch to e-cigarettes stated that the rate of puffing is approximately similar to that of inhaling on tobacco – a person who used to smoke around 20 cigarettes per day is now having around 20 vaping sessions. However, there are some key differences between the two addictions.
The first is that users can now wait longer for their first puff of the day (from 27 minutes in the case of combustible tobacco to 45 minutes in the case of ecigs). Secondly, 40% of smokers used to wake up in the middle of the night for a cigarettes, while only 7% of e-cig users continue doing so. Thirdly, about 30% of vapers had strong cravings to puff on the devices, compared to 90% of the smokers. And last but not least, only around 25% stated they felt irritated or nervous when they couldn’t puff on nicotine, as compared again to the 90% of smokers.
As you can clearly see in the results above, electronic cigarettes do have a more calming effect on the lives of former smokers, besides the fact that they are considered to pose far less health risks. But what makes them so interesting? Stay tuned for the second part of this article.
Jonathan Foulds, PhD. is a Professor of Public Health Sciences and Psychiatry at Penn State University, College of Medicine. Besides his esteemed medical career, he was also a founding member and Vice President of the Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence. Dr. Foulds is also a renowned health expert on the popular WebMD online smoking cessation community.
At the moment there are more than 400 brands of electronic cigarettes available, most of which can be purchased in online stores. Also the number of flavors in the nicotine based e-liquid is skyrocketing, with numerous new aromas (each more complex and more refined than the last one) being developed each month.
Considering that you can find high concentration e-liquids and that the newer generations of e-cigarettes (tank systems and mech mods) deliver nicotine much more efficiently than the first generation cig-a-likes, would have given the e-cigarette all the odds of winning the addiction battle with tobacco combustibles, but according to the survey conducted on 3,600 vapers, the results showed clearly the opposite.
According to Dr. Foulds, there are a couple of reasons behind ecigs being far less addictive than their combustible counterparts. One of the most important is that, even though technology has advanced and now ecigs deliver an increased quantity of nicotine to the lungs, it’s still less than in the case of smoking on tobacco. As Professor Foulds showed, the concentration of nicotine in the blood of a vaper is much lower than the concentration found in a heavy smoker.
Understanding the functionality
Another reason is closely related to the functionality of e-cigarettes and the way people use them. Because you don’t need a lighter or a match to puff on your e-cigarette, you are under less pressure to vape in concentrated sessions. However, in the case of smoking there is an entire routine. Combustible tobacco cigarettes are smoked on the go. People go outside or in designated areas, light them up and puff on them for a few minutes until they are done, then toss them aside. With electronic cigarettes you take 2-3 puffs, wait 10 to 15 minutes for the next puffs and so on. You get to enjoy it more relaxed and you’re under no pressure to get as much nicotine in a single session.
Of course, many people found the study interesting, including health advocates but, as always they prefer to remain reluctant and wait for a decision from the Food and Drug Agency, which is currently working on regulating the whole e-cigarette industry. There are some concerns that with newer and more powerful devices, the chances of addiction could increase and without any regulations, manufacturers are able sell dangerous gizmos without any quality control standards imposed by the government.
We should applaud Dr. Foulds and his team or researchers for this interesting study and wait for more scientific evidence before making a clear statement on the effects that e-cigarettes might have on our lives. However, many doctors and scientists still agree they are a less risker alternative than combustible tobacco.