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People Who Try E-Cigarettes are Younger and More Motivated to Quit

Update Date: Jul 23, 2013 02:24 PM EDT

Since the development of e-cigarettes, which are electronic cigarettes that are often made with nicotine and works to resemble a real cigarette, the subject of the product's safety has been debated. Some countries, such as France and Great Britain have taken measures to limit the sales of e-cigarettes due to the uncertainty behind these products. Studies researching whether or not using e-cigarettes to help with quitting have been inconclusive. However, even though these products are no longer considered tools to help quit smoking, a new study found that smokers who end up using e-cigarettes tend to be more motivated to kick the habit. 

In this study headed by researchers, Pallav Pokhrel, Ph.D. and Thaddeus Herzog, Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center Prevention and Control Program, the team found that e-cigarettes are used as a smoking cessation tool. For this study, the researchers analyzed the data of 1,567 adult smokers who provided information about their smoking habits to a Hawaii-based survey from 2010 to 2012. The smokers reported smoking at least three cigarettes daily and over 100 cigarettes in their lifetime. The survey also recorded data on nicotine dependence, the number of times smokers have attempted to quit and their motivation levels.

The researchers calculated that around 13 percent of the smokers had used e-cigarettes as a means of quitting. These smokers were more likely to be younger and thus, had been smoking for a shorter time period in comparison to other smokers. Smokers were two to four times more likely to use e-cigarettes if they have already used nicotine replacement gum, patches and other aids such as bupropion or varenicline.

"Despite the lack of firm evidence regarding safety or effectiveness, e-cigarettes appear to have become cessation aids of choice for some smokers who appear to show a relatively higher motivation to quit smoking," Herzog stated according to Medical Xpress. "Thus, this study confirms the importance of promptly developing appropriate e-cigarette regulations that address smokers' use of e-cigarettes as cessation products."

The researchers also discovered that native Hawaiians were less likely to enlist the help of e-cigarettes as a quitting tool in comparison to white residents. The researchers suggested that since younger people tend to be more motivated to quit, this study could provide insight as to what methods would be effective in helping young adults quit.

"If e-cigarettes are found to be relatively safer and effective as cessation aids, the appeal that they have for younger adults should be used to enhance smoking cessation among younger smokers," Pokhrel stated. "Conversely, if e-cigarettes are ineffective as cessation aids and are potentially a risk, strategies need to be developed to help younger smokers find effective cessation aids."

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health

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