E-Cigs Might Make It Harder to Kick the Habit

Electronic cigarettes may make it harder for conventional cigarette smokers to cut back

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Many electronic cigarette fans tout the devices' ability to help people quit smoking conventional cigarettes. New evidence suggests, however, that e-cigarettes may not live up to the hype.

A new study found that smokers who used e-cigs in the past had a higher risk of not being able to quit smoking compared to those who had never used an e-cig before.

The authors of this study noted that daily smokers and women were more likely to have tried e-cigs.

Wael K. Al-Delaimy, MD, PhD, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, led this study.

"Based on the idea that smokers use e-cigarettes to quit smoking, we hypothesized that smokers who used these products would be more successful in quitting," Dr. Al-Delaimy said in a press release. "But the research revealed the contrary. We need further studies to answer why they cannot quit. One hypothesis is that smokers are receiving an increase in nicotine dose by using e-cigarettes."

E-cigs are battery-operated devices that heat a nicotine (the primary addictive chemical in tobacco) solution. The device then creates a misty vapor that the user inhales. People who use e-cigs are often called "vapers."

Dr. Al-Delaimy and team followed 1,000 California smokers for a year. They found that smokers who used e-cigs were 49 percent less likely to cut back on smoking than smokers who had never used e-cigs before. Vapers were also 59 percent less likely to quit smoking than smokers who hadn’t smoked e-cigs before.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) noted some of the possible health risks linked to the marketing, sale and use of e-cigs in a January health statement.

"There is a lot of misinformation about e-cigarettes," said CDPH Director and State Health Officer Ron Chapman, MD. "That is why, as the state's health officer, I am advising Californians to avoid the use of e-cigarettes and keep them away from children of all ages."

This study was published April 16 in the American Journal of Public Health

The CDPH funded this research. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
April 16, 2015
Last Updated:
April 20, 2015