Can Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems Reduce Smoking?

logo1267406_mdA new study published in online Elsevier reported on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) that debuted in China in 2002, and have become available globally especially through the Internet.  Little is known about their long term health effect and addiction possibility and are of varying nicotine content and  delivery. They have been banned by health authorities in Canada and Australia.

Researchers from the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada investigated ENDS awareness, use, and perception among current and former cigarette users. Researchers were unaware of previous studies of cross-national patterns of ENDS use. Data were collected from around 6,000 telephone and web surveys in the four countries between July 2010 and June 2011. Overall awareness of ENDS reached about 47 percent ranging from 73 percent in the United States where they are legal, to 20 percent in Australia where they are banned.  Awareness was highest among younger (age 18-24), non-minority populations with higher incomes and of those aware, 16 percent had tried ENDS. Just over 70 percent said ENDS were less harmful than traditional cigarettes and perception of harm was highest in the United States and United Kingdom.

Almost 80 percent said they used ENDS because they were considered less harmful than traditional cigarettes and almost seventy five percent said they used ENDS to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoked. Eighty five percent said they used ENDS to help quit smoking and almost 75 percent used them to access nicotine in smoke-free spaces. Researchers said “This study represents a snapshot in time of the use of ENDS from mid 2010 to mid 2011. As the market evolves, awareness, trial, and use of ENDS is likely to increase. Should regulatory authorities approve direct claims about reduced harm, one might expect greater adoption of these products, at least among current cigarette smokers. If credible evidence can be provided to regulators, through independently researched, well-controlled studies, that ENDS reduces the number of cigarette smokers and does not attract use among nonsmokers, then the net public health effect is likely to be positive.”

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