Many anti-smoking groups and advocates have been opposing electronic cigarettes on the grounds that these products perpetuate or even increase nicotine addiction, rather than decreasing it. But a new study presented at the 2014 annual conference of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) provides evidence that nicotine addiction levels are actually decreased, not increased, in smokers who have switched to electronic cigarettes.
Foulds PhD, Susan Veldheer MS RD, Jessica Yingst, Shari Hrabovsky RN MSN. Comparison of dependence on electronic
cigarettes and regular cigarettes in a large sample of e-cig users. Penn
State University College of Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences,
Dr. Foulds and colleagues developed a 10-question scale to assess nicotine dependence and administered it to a sample of 2,368 current electronic cigarette users. Subjects were asked to fill out the scale to assess the level of their addiction while smoking, and then again to assess the level of their current addiction using electronic cigarettes.
The main results were as follows: "In the
survey of e-cig users, dependence on e-cigs was significantly lower than it had
been on cigarettes (8.6 v 14.9). ... Current
e-cig users are significantly less dependent on e-cigs than they were on
cigarettes prior to switching."
The Rest of the Story
While the study must be viewed as providing only preliminary evidence and further confirmation is necessary, this is important research because it suggests that contrary to the assertions of many anti-smoking advocates, switching from tobacco cigarettes to electronic cigarettes decreases rather than increases the level of addiction to nicotine. Smokers who make the switch are less addicted and feel better prepared and better able to quit completely.
Since Dr. Foulds' addiction scale correlates significantly with actual quitting behavior, one would expect that these results would eventually translate into higher rates of complete nicotine cessation in smokers who switch to electronic cigarettes.
These results, while preliminary, provide initial evidence that electronic cigarettes may serve not only as a means of helping smokers to quit, but also of helping them to eventually become free of nicotine addiction.
Hopefully, Dr. Foulds and his group will next repeat the study using a sample of dual users (electronic cigarettes and regular cigarettes) to determine whether or not dual users experience a similar reduction in their overall level of smoking addiction.