Switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes has significant health benefits, according to a survey of more than 19,000 users
Many health benefits are reported by e-cigarette users, according to a new study published today in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The study was a worldwide survey, with a questionnaire available in 10 different languages, to assess the experience, patterns of use, side effect and benefits observed by e-cigarette consumers.
In total, 19,441 vapers participated to the study. More than 80% had completely substituted smoking with e-cigarette use, while the rest reduced smoking consumption from 20 to 4 tobacco cigarettes per day. The main findings of the survey were that vapers use e-cigarettes in order to reduce or completely substitute smoking for health reasons. They initiate use with high levels of nicotine, with more than 1 in 5 participants starting with higher than 20mg/ml nicotine concentration. E-cigarettes were effective smoking substitutes even with those with high-dependence on smoking, with most consumers using 2nd and 3rd generation devices. More than half reported side-effects; they were mild and temporary in most cases, with the most common symptom being dry mouth and throat. Importantly, significant benefits were reported for physiologic functions (such as better breathing, gustatory and olfactory senses), as well as improvements in pre-existing disease conditions (mainly respiratory disease, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia).
“This is by far the largest survey of e-cigarette users ever published until now” said leading researcher and main author of the manuscript Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos from the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens-Greece. He noted: “Although the study evaluated the experience of dedicated users only, it is important to examine how this group is using e-cigarettes so that we can instruct smokers on how to successfully use the devices in order to switch from tobacco to e-cigarette use.”
The study found that those who completely substituted smoking were more likely to experience health benefits compared to dual users. “This is an expected finding”, said Dr Farsalinos. “E-cigarettes do not have therapeutic properties, but using them instead of tobacco is definitely expected to result in substantial health benefits. This is supported from all research performed until now on the safety profile of e-cigarettes. However, we should wait for long-term follow-up studies to define the overall health impact of e-cigarette use.”
A very small minority (0.4%) reported not being smokers at the time of initiation of EC use. They were consuming less liquid and were using lower nicotine levels; more than half of them were using non-nicotine liquids. “This is a very small minority of e-cigarette users, consistent with other studies showing minimal adoption by non-smokers”, said Dr Farsalinos. “It should be emphasized that none of them became a smoker after initiating e-cigarette use, debunking the theory of gateway to smoking”, he added.
The study is available with free access to the full text here
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