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Electronic cigarettes: review of use, content, safety, effects on smokers and potential for harm and benefit.

Addiction (Abingdon, England)

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      Abstract

      We reviewed available research on the use, content and safety of electronic cigarettes (EC), and on their effects on users, to assess their potential for harm or benefit and to extract evidence that can guide future policy. Studies were identified by systematic database searches and screening references to February 2014. EC aerosol can contain some of the toxicants present in tobacco smoke, but at levels which are much lower. Long-term health effects of EC use are unknown but compared with cigarettes, EC are likely to be much less, if at all, harmful to users or bystanders. EC are increasingly popular among smokers, but to date there is no evidence of regular use by never-smokers or by non-smoking children. EC enable some users to reduce or quit smoking. Allowing EC to compete with cigarettes in the market-place might decrease smoking-related morbidity and mortality. Regulating EC as strictly as cigarettes, or even more strictly as some regulators propose, is not warranted on current evidence. Health professionals may consider advising smokers unable or unwilling to quit through other routes to switch to EC as a safer alternative to smoking and a possible pathway to complete cessation of nicotine use. © 2014 Society for the Study of Addiction.

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      Levels of selected carcinogens and toxicants in vapour from electronic cigarettes.

      Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are devices designed to imitate regular cigarettes and deliver nicotine via inhalation without combusting tobacco. They are purported to deliver nicotine without other toxicants and to be a safer alternative to regular cigarettes. However, little toxicity testing has been performed to evaluate the chemical nature of vapour generated from e-cigarettes. The aim of this study was to screen e-cigarette vapours for content of four groups of potentially toxic and carcinogenic compounds: carbonyls, volatile organic compounds, nitrosamines and heavy metals. Vapours were generated from 12 brands of e-cigarettes and the reference product, the medicinal nicotine inhaler, in controlled conditions using a modified smoking machine. The selected toxic compounds were extracted from vapours into a solid or liquid phase and analysed with chromatographic and spectroscopy methods. We found that the e-cigarette vapours contained some toxic substances. The levels of the toxicants were 9-450 times lower than in cigarette smoke and were, in many cases, comparable with trace amounts found in the reference product. Our findings are consistent with the idea that substituting tobacco cigarettes with e-cigarettes may substantially reduce exposure to selected tobacco-specific toxicants. E-cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy among smokers unwilling to quit, warrants further study. (To view this abstract in Polish and German, please see the supplementary files online.).
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        Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation: a randomised controlled trial.

        Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) can deliver nicotine and mitigate tobacco withdrawal and are used by many smokers to assist quit attempts. We investigated whether e-cigarettes are more effective than nicotine patches at helping smokers to quit. We did this pragmatic randomised-controlled superiority trial in Auckland, New Zealand, between Sept 6, 2011, and July 5, 2013. Adult (≥18 years) smokers wanting to quit were randomised (with computerised block randomisation, block size nine, stratified by ethnicity [Māori; Pacific; or non-Māori, non-Pacific], sex [men or women], and level of nicotine dependence [>5 or ≤5 Fagerström test for nicotine dependence]) in a 4:4:1 ratio to 16 mg nicotine e-cigarettes, nicotine patches (21 mg patch, one daily), or placebo e-cigarettes (no nicotine), from 1 week before until 12 weeks after quit day, with low intensity behavioural support via voluntary telephone counselling. The primary outcome was biochemically verified continuous abstinence at 6 months (exhaled breath carbon monoxide measurement <10 ppm). Primary analysis was by intention to treat. This trial is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, number ACTRN12610000866000. 657 people were randomised (289 to nicotine e-cigarettes, 295 to patches, and 73 to placebo e-cigarettes) and were included in the intention-to-treat analysis. At 6 months, verified abstinence was 7·3% (21 of 289) with nicotine e-cigarettes, 5·8% (17 of 295) with patches, and 4·1% (three of 73) with placebo e-cigarettes (risk difference for nicotine e-cigarette vs patches 1·51 [95% CI -2·49 to 5·51]; for nicotine e-cigarettes vs placebo e-cigarettes 3·16 [95% CI -2·29 to 8·61]). Achievement of abstinence was substantially lower than we anticipated for the power calculation, thus we had insufficient statistical power to conclude superiority of nicotine e-cigarettes to patches or to placebo e-cigarettes. We identified no significant differences in adverse events, with 137 events in the nicotine e-cigarettes group, 119 events in the patches group, and 36 events in the placebo e-cigarettes group. We noted no evidence of an association between adverse events and study product. E-cigarettes, with or without nicotine, were modestly effective at helping smokers to quit, with similar achievement of abstinence as with nicotine patches, and few adverse events. Uncertainty exists about the place of e-cigarettes in tobacco control, and more research is urgently needed to clearly establish their overall benefits and harms at both individual and population levels. Health Research Council of New Zealand. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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          Electronic cigarette: users profile, utilization, satisfaction and perceived efficacy.

          To assess the profile, utilization patterns, satisfaction and perceived effects among users of electronic cigarettes ('e-cigarettes'). Internet survey in English and French in 2010. Online questionnaire. Visitors of websites and online discussion forums dedicated to e-cigarettes and to smoking cessation. There were 3587 participants (70% former tobacco smokers, 61% men, mean age 41 years). The median duration of electronic cigarette use was 3 months, users drew 120 puffs/day and used five refills/day. Almost all (97%) used e-cigarettes containing nicotine. Daily users spent $33 per month on these products. Most (96%) said the e-cigarette helped them to quit smoking or reduce their smoking (92%). Reasons for using the e-cigarette included the perception that it was less toxic than tobacco (84%), to deal with craving for tobacco (79%) and withdrawal symptoms (67%), to quit smoking or avoid relapsing (77%), because it was cheaper than smoking (57%) and to deal with situations where smoking was prohibited (39%). Most ex-smokers (79%) feared they might relapse to smoking if they stopped using the e-cigarette. Users of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes reported better relief of withdrawal and a greater effect on smoking cessation than those using non-nicotine e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes were used much as people would use nicotine replacement medications: by former smokers to avoid relapse or as an aid to cut down or quit smoking. Further research should evaluate the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes for administration of nicotine and other substances, and for quitting and relapse prevention. © 2011 The Authors, Addiction © 2011 Society for the Study of Addiction.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            10.1111/add.12659
            25078252

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