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E-Cigs Sell Big Because They're Perceived as Cooler

Update Date: Jun 03, 2014 05:30 PM EDT

Electronic cigarettes are taking over the smoking cessation market because they're cooler than other options, a new study suggests.

Researcher Michael Steinberg of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in the U.S. compared the popularity of e-cigarettes to that of nicotine inhalers. Steinberg and his team found that marketing schemes have made wannabe ex-smokers perceive 'vaping' as being cooler than other methods of nicotine delivery.

While nicotine inhalers were approved in 1997 as safe and effective in improving smoking cessation rates, very little is known about the safety and effectiveness of electronic cigarettes. Researchers said that nicotine inhalers work when nicotine vapor is breathed in and absorbed through cells in the mouth lining, and past studies have shown that they are indeed safe and effective in terms of smoking cessation. Even still, nicotine inhalers and other FDA-approved pharmaceutical products are rarely used.

In contrast, electronic cigarettes, which work by heating nicotine-containing solution to deliver vaporized nicotine, are becoming very popular among Americans who want to quit smoking.

After conducting a crossover trial of 38 smokers who tried both the e-cigarette and nicotine inhaler over a period of six days, researchers found that e-cigarettes were perceived as more acceptable and "cool". Researchers also found that electronic cigarettes also provided significantly more satisfaction and physical reward compared to the inhaler. Furthermore, the satisfaction achieved using e-cigarettes was similar to satisfaction using tobacco cigarettes.

Study data revealed that 76 percent of participants report they would use an electronic cigarette to help them quit. Researchers noted that 18 percent of participants did not smoke at all during the electronic cigarette-testing period, and only 10 percent avoided smoking during the inhaler-testing period.

"E-cigarettes have the potential to be important nicotine delivery products because of their high acceptance and perceived benefit, but more data are needed to evaluate their actual efficacy and safety," Steinberg said in a news release.

The findings were published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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