Auckland University are urging people to volunteer for clinical trials with an electronic cigarette that delivers nicotine, but without harmful effects of tobacco.
Dr Hayden McRobbie, an expert at the Clinical Trials Research Unit of the university, said that this study was aimed at determining whether the e-cigarette might provide nicotine faster than available nicotine replacement treatments.
The researcher revealed that the Hong Kong-made e-cigarette is smoked like a normal cigarette, and even glows at the tip when inhaled. It, however, delivers a measured dose of nicotine similar to other products like patches and gum, he added.
"On the whole nicotine is not the dangerous element in tobacco smoke. However, smokers miss the nicotine when they stop and they often experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as cravings," stuff.co.nz quoted him as saying.
"By using a product like the e-cigarette nicotine is still delivered and so cravings and withdrawal symptoms are reduced. The e-cigarette might be a good way to help people stop smoking as it addresses `the habit' of smoking whilst still providing nicotine but without the harmful substances in tobacco such as carbon monoxide and tar," he said.
McRobbie insisted that smokers could benefit from the trials.
"We've had enough of the finger-wagging. At the moment the message is quit or die and we've got to give people other ways of stopping smoking and other options," he said.
He revealed that, though the e-cigarette was not available in New Zealand, it could be purchased online for about 200 dollars.
McRobbie also specified that his team was looking for 50 adult smokers from Auckland for their study, set to begin at the end of January.
He revealed that the main focus during the study would be on whether any change would occur in the subjects' voices upon quitting factory-made cigarettes.
"Most people are aware that smoking causes lung cancer, but less know that smoking can damage the organs such as the vocal cords, causing the vocal cords to become thick and boggy - resulting in a deeper voice," he said.
"By studying smokers' voices as they quit, we hope to see whether this change is reversible," he added.
The researcher further said that detecting a change in voice quality might enable them to use technology to monitor the outcome of stop-smoking studies, making it easier to test new ways to help smokers quit.