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Does The e-Cigarette Deliver Nicotine?

I’m currently attending the annual conference of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. This is the main organization for nicotine researchers and this conference is often the first place that exciting new research findings are presented, prior to being published in more detail in scientific journals. So this week my posts will be based on some of the most interesting things I have come across at this conference, including new developments in helping smokers quit.

There is currently considerable interest (hype?) in the e-cigarette, and I have written about it before. Last weekend I was walking through our local shopping mall in New Jersey with my 8-year old daughter when she tugged at my arm and said “dad, dad, theres a man smoking over there.” I told her that couldn’t be true because people arnt allowed to smoke inside the mall, but she insisted. On looking over I was surprised to see that sure enough, someone was standing next to a booth and appeared to be puffing away on a cigarette. So we walked over to investigate, and found out that in fact it was an e-cigarette and he was selling the product at the booth. We chatted and he showed me the product which actually looks very impressive. I had already purchased an earlier version a couple of years ago, which was more stogie cigar-sized, but this one looked and puffed very much like a cigarette and was also considerably less expensive than the earlier model.

But whenever discussing this product, to me the first and most critical question (after …”whats in the vapor and might it harm my health?”) is, “does it deliver enough nicotine to satisfy nicotine cravings? “ Until I came to this conference, I hadn’t met anyone who had completed a study that included measurement of blood nicotine levels in people using the e-cigarette. This question is critical because cigarette smokers are used to receiving a boost in blood nicotine levels of at least 10 ng/ml from each cigarette, and for a product to have any chance of effectively reducing craving for or replacing cigarettes it needs to come close to that level of nicotine delivery.

But I was lucky enough to bump into Dr Murray Laugesen, a tobacco control expert from New Zealand who has been one of the foremost proponents of the product. He showed me a preliminary report on the e-cigarette which was being presented at the conference. Full details of the study will be presented in a formal publication sometime in the future, but for right now the main conclusion is that although the e-cigarette CONTAINS a reasonable amount of nicotine it actually DELIVERS very little nicotine to the user, and certainly much much less that can be obtained from smoking. To my mind this relegates the status of this product to that of a very nice and cleverly designed theatre prop, and unfortunately not a product that is likely to be highly effective in helping smokers to quit smoking.

As always, if you are interested in using a product to assist you in quitting smoking, your best bet is to use a product that has been approved by the medicines licensing agency in your country as safe and effective for that purpose (e.g. in the U.S. that would be the FDA).

For more information about Dr Laugesen’s work on the e-cigarette, visit:

http://www.healthnz.co.nz/ecigarette.htm

*This post, Does The e-Cigarette Deliver Nicotine?, was originally published on Healthline.com by Johnatan Foulds, MA, MAppSci, PhD.*


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3 Responses to “Does The e-Cigarette Deliver Nicotine?”

  1. A. Stanley says:

    I was stunned to read Dr. Foulds assumption that the e cigarette is just a “theater prop” that has no use for smoking cessation. It is unfortunate so many “tobacco control experts” have so little real knowledge of what SMOKERS find works to reduce or quit smoking. NRT's manufactured by pharmaceutical companies have a dismal success rate and their use has never appealed to me since, frankly, I never intend to quit (after 42 years of smoking 2 packs a day). I purchased an e cig as a rebellion against the ridiculous cigarette taxes and found – on the first day, using ZERO nicotine cartridges – I went from smoking 40 cigarettes a day to smoking 10. Now, two months later, I am still smoking well less than a pack a day – a 50% to 75% reduction in smoking “real” cigarettes. It isn't the nicotine that led to that reduction; it was the action of “smoking”, the feel of an e cig that almost perfectly simulates the real thing, and the taste which I have come to actually prefer over the cigarette brand I have smoked for 40 years.

    Please don't tell me the e cig is a “prop” that has no use in reducing smoking rates. I, and thousands of other smokers, know that to be an incredibly false assumption.

  2. A. Stanley says:

    I was stunned to read Dr. Foulds assumption that the e cigarette is just a “theater prop” that has no use for smoking cessation. It is unfortunate so many “tobacco control experts” have so little real knowledge of what SMOKERS find works to reduce or quit smoking. NRT's manufactured by pharmaceutical companies have a dismal success rate and their use has never appealed to me since, frankly, I never intend to quit (after 42 years of smoking 2 packs a day). I purchased an e cig as a rebellion against the ridiculous cigarette taxes and found – on the first day, using ZERO nicotine cartridges – I went from smoking 40 cigarettes a day to smoking 10. Now, two months later, I am still smoking well less than a pack a day – a 50% to 75% reduction in smoking “real” cigarettes. It isn't the nicotine that led to that reduction; it was the action of “smoking”, the feel of an e cig that almost perfectly simulates the real thing, and the taste which I have come to actually prefer over the cigarette brand I have smoked for 40 years.

    Please don't tell me the e cig is a “prop” that has no use in reducing smoking rates. I, and thousands of other smokers, know that to be an incredibly false assumption.

  3. Treece says:

    I smoked a pack+ of tobacco cigarettes a day for more than 30 years and tried many times and many ways to quit (patch, gum, hypnosis, cold turkey, etc.). I bought an e-cigarette in March and haven't touched a tobacco cigarette since one week after that purchase. This device is no prop, I assure you. I not only have no desire for a tobacco cigarette–I now find them downright repulsive. I'm amazed–truly amazed.

    I'm also breathing easier and feeling healthier. No surprise there, since I'm no longer inhaling the thousands of chemicals in tobacco cigarettes, many of which are known carcinogens. What's more, I tapered from high-nicotine content to low in two short months.

    But it's not just the nicotine. If I were addicted only to the nicotine, the patch or gum would have done the trick, right? Well, they didn't (and don't for about 95% of smokers trying to quit).

    There are *thousands* of stories like mine, and the medical community really should pay attention. This device has the potential to save countless lives.

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