A new study from Penn State’s College of Medicine is showing what many had suspected all along — that the addictiveness of electronic cigarettes is distinctly lower than that of tobacco cigarettes. The study looked at the e-cig and tobacco “dependance scores” of more than 3,500 individuals with histories of using both products. Every individual that exhibited high dependance on electronic cigarettes exhibited a higher dependance on tobacco cigarettes.
According to Jonathan Foulds, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences and psychiatry at Penn State’s College of Medicine:
We found that e-cigarettes appear to be less addictive than tobacco cigarettes in a large sample of long-term users.
He goes on to add:
We don’t have long-term health data of e-cig use yet, but any common sense analysis says that e-cigs are much less toxic. And our paper shows that they appear to be much less addictive, as well. So in both measures they seem to have advantages when you’re concerned about health.
You can read more about the study right here.
The researchers suggest that this reduced addictiveness may be related to the products’ inability to deliver nicotine as effectively. While this is almost certainly true, other researchers and preliminary evidence suggests that, in the absence of smoke (and many other constituents found in tobacco cigarettes), nicotine just isn’t as addictive when delivered via vapor.
The study shows promise not only for those hoping to quit, but also for those that start using electronic cigarettes without using other tobacco produces. There is significant concern that electronic cigarettes may lead the way to a new generation of addicted nicotine consumers. Evidence is already suggesting that a lifetime of nicotine consumption with electronic cigarettes has the potential to be no more harmful that a lifetime of caffeine use. Some experts have even claimed that a lifetime of e-cig use could be no more harmful than 2 months of smoking.
So for those that accept that part of the science, the argument becomes that addictiveness on its own is enough to warrant age restrictions, flavor and usage bans, and counter marketed. If that were truly the case, then caffeine, cheese, and video games would be more tightly controlled too. Now, it appears likely that those consuming nicotine exclusively via e-cigs may be more capable of quitting if they decide to do so. So even that argument is becoming hard to make.