A small study says Electronic cigarette consumers are finding themselves confused; most purchase the devices to quit, but find themselves simply beginning a new habit.
In Scotland, 64 smokers were interviewed about the benefits of e-cigarettes, and no agreement could be found about the harm or help the devices provide. This may signify some division in the medical realm about how helpful e-cigarettes are, the authors said in Tobacco Control.
Amanda Amos, a researcher at the Center for Population Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh’s Medical School, and author of the study, said “Because e-cigarettes are relatively new products we are only beginning to learn about the health risks.”
E-cigarettes imitate real cigarettes with a lighted tip and a cloud of vapor. They contain a batter and heating, and a cartridge that contains nicotine and flavor.
The fact that e-cigarettes don’t burn tobacco may be a health benefit, however, the nicotine inside is still addictive.
Amos and other researchers held 12 focus groups and 11 interviews with individuals. All had quit smoking in the last year.
Almost all of them had used e-cigarettes, and most of them agreed that smoking is an addiction that requires strength of will to overcome.
Most of them thought e-cigarettes were like patches and gum–replacements designed to help them quit. Many also consider them medical resources because general practitioners recommend them to quit.
However, users were less sure about what the precise use was, and e-cigarettes were viewed as less likely to help people quit than the other methods.
A professor of medicine at the University of Catania in Italy, Dr. Ricardo Polosa, said, “This paper shows that the public’s view of e-cigarettes is far from being clear, with a great deal of ambiguity around the product and its intended use.” Though the doctor wasn’t part of the study, he said, “Really, it’s not complicated at all. E-cigs are a much safer alternative to smoking and are intended for smokers who are unable to quit using other methods.”
The study is not large enough to reach real conclusions, but it does suggest that the health benefits of e-cigarettes are not clear for anyone.