A new study was published this week that showed dependence levels for users of electronic cigarettes, nicotine gums, and tobacco cigarettes. While evidence already exists that electronic cigarettes are less addictive than tobacco cigarettes (a theory this study supports), it is surprising to see evidence that nicotine-containing e-cigs are also less addictive than nicotine gum. This demolishes anti-e-cig efforts based solely on the addictiveness of nicotine and electronic cigarettes.
You can read the study’s abstract right here. The study was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
The study determined “dependance ratings” for individuals using electronic cigarettes, nicotine gum, tobacco cigarettes, and both tobacco and electronic cigarettes. While the results weren’t exactly surprising, they were extremely promising. Users of electronic cigarettes showed lower dependence on the devices than smokers showed for tobacco cigarettes and former smokers using nicotine gum did for the gum. This suggests that electronic cigarettes — even those containing nicotine — just aren’t that addictive.
Boston public health professor, tobacco addiction expert, and electronic cigarette advocate Michael Siegel provides a more in depth review of the study’s results. Primarily, he says that this study is further evidence that anti-smoking groups are flat out wrong when they claim that electronic cigarettes, by virtue of containing nicotine, must be as addictive as tobacco cigarettes.
What’s more, nicotine dependence among individuals that used both electronic cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes (those called “dual users”) was lower than in those that were just smokers. This suggests that electronic cigarettes really do help smokers break the hold smoking-addiction has on them. Again, this erodes arguments that electronic cigarettes should be heavily controlled or completely banned by virtue of being an addictive product. If they are less addictive than nicotine gum, then these arguments need to be made about nicotine gum as well — a product that anti-smoking groups support wholeheartedly.
A similar study comparing dependence on electronic cigarettes among vapers to dependence on coffee among heavy coffee drinkers might further show that nicotine devices are not as addictive as we think. Many experts now believe that nicotine is far, far less addictive when not consumed through the inhalation of smoke.