People who've recently stopped smoking are four times more likely to use e-cigarettes than current smokers

A new Rutgers-led study found that people who have quit smoking cigarettes within the last year are four times more likely than current smokers to use e-cigarettes daily.

The study, published recently in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, was conducted by Rutgers School of Public Health and the Schroeder Institute, the research arm of Truth Initiative, a national public health group.

“This is in line with other recent evidence that regular, daily e-cigarette use may help some smokers quit cigarettes,” said Cristine Delnevo, researcher at the School of Public Health and lead author of the study.

Image of e-cigarette smoker
Researchers estimate that approximately half of all daily cigarette smokers have tried e-cigarettes, 

The researchers, who used data from a 2014 National Health Interview survey, say that approximately half of all daily cigarette smokers have tried e-cigarettes, which stimulate the feeling of cigarette smoking but release fewer toxins and carcinogens. “The highest prevalence of daily e-cigarette use was among current smokers and former smokers who quit within the past year."

Thirteen percent of recent quitters are likely to use e-cigarettes daily vs. 3.5 percent of current smokers, the researchers found.

The researchers found that daily e-cigarette use was more common among adults over age 25 than among 18-to-24-year-olds and that e-cigarette experimentation is “extremely low” for adults who never smoked cigarettes or who quit more than four years ago. This may indicate that e-cigarettes lack appeal to nonsmokers and generally do not cause former smokers to return to smoking.

“The findings suggest that e-cigarettes could be used to displace much more toxic cigarettes among smokers and generate an impressive public health benefit in terms of lives saved,” said David Abrams, Schroeder Institute’s executive director. “It is important to be clear, however, that e-cigarettes deliver nicotine, an addictive stimulant. They are not appropriate products for children and youth.”    

The 2014 Surgeon General's report suggested that e-cigarettes may aid in reducing tobacco-caused disease. But while this latest research points in that direction, Delnevo said, more research is needed to avoid forming inaccurate conclusions.

"Improved and standardized measures of e-cigarette use are needed to understand how these products are being used as well as the progression from experimentation to regular use and the influence of e-cigarette uptake on tobacco use trajectories," Delnevo said.

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