E-cigarettes not as addictive as tobacco cigarettes, study shows

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Scientists have found that people using tobacco based traditional cigarettes are more dependent on their product as compared to those using electronic cigarettes thereby implying that the electronic cigarettes are less addictive than their tobacco counterparts.

Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine analyzed responses to surveys taken in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study, a comprehensive, ongoing national survey of tobacco use among more than 30,000 young people and adults. Scientists specifically looked for daily or almost-daily users of either e-cigarettes or cigarettes.

Of the 32,320 respondents who had answered in the survey, 3,586 fit the study criteria. Among those, about 5 per cent exclusively used e-cigarettes and about 95 per cent exclusively smoked cigarettes. Of the e-cigarette users, 93 per cent once regularly smoked cigarettes and about 7 per cent experimented with cigarette smoking.

Scientists determined from the survey that compared with cigarette smokers, e-cigarette users waited longer to start using their product after waking up. People on e-cigarettes were less likely to consider themselves addicted, to have strong cravings or to feel like they really needed their product. They were also less likely to say they found it difficult to refrain from using their product in restricted places. Researchers reported their findings in Preventive Medicine.

All of the participants included in the analysis were considered dependent due to their regularity of use. But the study’s lead author, Guodong Liu, assistant professor of public health sciences, said the findings indicated that e-cigarette users were relatively less dependent than cigarette users.

“No doubt about it, e-cigarettes are addictive, but not at the same level as traditional cigarettes,” Liu said.

Use of cigarettes has been declining over the years in the US, but use of e-cigarettes is increasing, especially among adolescents and young adults. Although the new findings suggest that electronic cigarettes — also known as e-cigarettes — cause less nicotine dependence than traditional cigarettes, planned follow-up studies will help determine if e-cigarettes could lead to traditional cigarettes dependence in the future.

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