Most Europeans who have tried e-cigarettes are the young, current smokers, or those who recently have tried quitting regular cigarettes, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health.
Nearly 30 million in Europe have tried the battery-operated devices despite the fact that not much is known about their potential risks to health or whether or not they help smokers trying to quit.
Constantine Vardavas, senior research scientist at Harvard’s Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said:.
“These new findings show that millions, including many young people and smokers trying to quit, are trying e-cigarettes, which underscores the importance of assessing their potential harm or benefits.”
Among smokers, e-cigarette use was more likely among 15-year-olds in comparison with older smokers, and among heavier smokers (6 or more cigarettes per day) in comparison with light smokers (5 or fewer cigarettes per day).
The study also indicated that smokers may be experimenting with e-cigarettes as stop smoking devices. Those who tried to quit in the past year were twice as likely to have ever used e-cigarettes as smokers who had not tried to quit.
E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine and to mimic the sensory perception of smoking without combustion.
However, some think e-cigarettes could be a useful tool in helping people to stop smoking, while others think that those who “vape” e-cigarettes might move on to either smoking regular cigarettes or using e-cigarettes in conjunction with conventional tobacco.
Researchers analysed data from a 2012 survey about Europeans’ attitudes towards tobacco, including 26,566 youth and adults from 27 European countries, to determine the prevalence of e-cigarette use in Europe.
They found that one in five current smokers (20.3%), one in 20 ex-smokers (4.4%), and one in 100 (1.1%) of those who have never smoked have tried e-cigarettes at least once.
The authors estimate that in 2012, more than 29 million European adults had tried e-cigarettes, a number they describe as staggering especially taking into account that this was before a significant boom of the industry.
Vardavas said more research is needed to determine the impact of e-cigarettes on individual and population health, nicotine addiction and on quitting smoking.
The study is published in the journal Tobacco Control.
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