There is an ongoing debate as to whether e-cigarettes are effective aids for smoking cessation, promote uptake by non-tobacco users, discourage cessation via dual use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes, or encourage relapse to cigarette use among former smokers. Adding to a growing body of research on patterns of e-cigarette use, scientists have now found evidence that among American adults, some recent cigarette quitters may have done so with the assistance of electronic cigarettes.
The research team comprised of experts from Rutgers School of Public Health and the Steven A. Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Truth Initiative. For the study, researchers analyzed data from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) of 36,697 US adults aged 18 years and over to assess daily e-cigarette use and its association with demographic characteristics and cigarette smoking status. They analyzed e-cigarette use among adults who are current daily cigarette smokers, current some day cigarette smokers, recent quitters - those who quit within the last year, former smokers who quit two to three years ago, former smokers who quit four or more years ago and never smokers.
‘The highest prevalence of daily e-cigarette use was noted among current smokers and former smokers who quit within the past year. Researchers also found that e-cigarette experimentation was extremely low for adults who never smoked cigarettes or who quit more than four years ago.’
Consistent with a report recently released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the researchers found that, overall, 12.6% of all adults report having ever tried e-cigarettes. The Rutgers/Truth Initiative study goes further by examining daily use of e-cigarettes and found that nearly half (49%) of daily cigarette smokers have ever tried e-cigarettes.
Cristine Delnevo, the study's lead author, said, "The highest prevalence of daily e-cigarette use we observed was among current smokers and former smokers who quit within the past year. The recent quitters are four times more likely to be daily users of e-cigarettes than current cigarette smokers (13% vs. 3.5%). This study is in line with other recent evidence that regular, daily e-cigarette use may help some smokers quit cigarettes."
The team also found that while any e-cigarette use was higher among young adults, daily e-cigarette use was more common among adults over age 25 years than among young adults aged 18-24 years. They observed that e-cigarette experimentation was extremely low for adults who never smoked cigarettes or who quit more than four years ago. The researchers also noted that e-cigarettes do not appear to attract young adults, non-smokers or promote relapse among longer-term former smokers.
David Abrams, executive director of the Schroeder Institute, said, "The finding that daily e-cigarette use is less common among 18-24 year old and never smokers is good news. It suggests that e-cigarettes could be used to displace use of much more deadly cigarettes among smokers and could generate an impressive public health benefit in terms of lives saved. It is important to be clear, however, that e-cigarettes deliver nicotine, an addictive stimulant. They are not appropriate products for children and youth."
The researchers caution that more precise measures of when, why and how e-cigarette use was initiated and how it is continuing are needed, and that such questions as well as longitudinal cohort studies may help investigators and policymakers better understand issues such as dual use, exclusive e-cigarette use and e-cigarette use as a potential cessation aid.
The study titled 'Patterns Of Electronic Cigarette Use Among Adults in the United States' was published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research