Nicotine absorption from electronic cigarette use: comparison between first and new generation devices


A new study was published today in the journal “Nature: Scientific Reports, in which Dr Farsalinos and his team evaluated the nicotine absorption potential of different types of e-cigarette devices. In particular, a first-generation cigarette-like device with a cartomizer was compared with a new generation device set at 9 watts energy delivery with a clearomizer.An 18mg/ml nicotine-containing e-liquid was used in the study, the same for both devices. A group of experienced vapers was recruited. Participants used both devices for 1 hour, in a randomized cross-over design on two separate days, after abstaining from e-cigarette use for 8 hours. They were allowed to use as much e-liquid as they wanted, and were allowed to use new batteries and cartomizers if needed during the 1-hour period.

The results of the study showed that nicotine absorption from e-cigarettes was significantly lower compared to tobacco cigarettes. In reality, 5 minutes of use led to 1/3rd to 1/4th plasma nicotine levels compared to smoking 1 tobacco cigarette. The new-generation device was much more efficient in nicotine delivery, with nicotine levels being 35-72% higher than those observed by using the first-generation device. In fact, even after 1 hour of use, users could not obtain plasma nicotine levels similar to smoking 1 cigarette in 5 minutes. The results show that nicotine absorption from e-cigarettes is slow and probably resembles that of NRTs. We concluded that at least 50mg/ml would be needed in order for nicotine absorption to approximate that of smoking. That would make the e-cigarette more effective for smokers (especially for heavy smokers) and could lead to lower liquid consumption (since it would decrease the need to use the e-cigarette continuously for long time periods).

This study adds to the evidence showing that the EU proposal for a 20mg/ml nicotine limit is inappropriateand will have a negative public health impact by depriving many smokers from the opportunity to successfully switch from tobacco to electronic cigarettes.


The study is available with free access to the full text here



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