E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices designed to deliver nicotine with flavorings and other chemicals to users in vapor instead of smoke. While e-cigarettes are often promoted as safer alternatives that help cure traditional cigarette addiction, a new study claims that e-cigarettes may be more addictive.
The researchers have reported that much of the nicotine in e-cigarettes is the addictive form of the compound. Although e-cigarettes do not burn tobacco, they heat and vaporize a liquid that contains nicotine, flavorings and other substances. Out of concern for the potential ill effects that inhaling this mixture could have on the health of young people, many states in US have banned their sale to minors.
Experts said, "Nicotine content could lead users to become addicted to e-cigarettes, or that it could even serve as a gateway to conventional cigarettes and other drugs." However, not all nicotine is created equal, and studies had yet to investigate what kind of nicotine was in the liquids. Out of three forms, researchers believe 'free-base' nicotine is the only one that gets absorbed by the body, making it the most addictive kind.
Najat Saliba and his team tested commercial samples of liquids made for the devices and found that, by and large, the nicotine was in the most addictive form. They also determined that the concentration of nicotine varied and often did not match the concentrations the labels claimed.
The research is published in Chemical Research, Toxicology.