Study recommends e-cigarettes are adding to diminish smoking pervasiveness

Study recommends e-cigarettes are adding to diminish smoking pervasiveness


  • Post By : Kumar Jeetendra

  • Source: University of Otago

  • Date: 19 Sep,2020

Individuals who smoke are using e-cigarettes to try to give up smoking, a study by researchers at the University of Otago, Wellington, has discovered.

The researchers found that between 2016 and 2018 the level of awareness, as well as the use of e-cigarettes, increased among smokers and those who had recently quit smoking.

The principal investigator of this study, Professor Richard Edwards from the University’s Department of Public Health, says e-cigarette use was most common among those aged 18-24 years and among people who had recently quit smoking.

The study is part of the New Zealand arm of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation (ITC) project and included polls with 1,155 individuals between 2016 and 2017 and 1,020 people in 2018 (400 of them Māori) who smoked or had recently quit smoking.

The 2018 survey found there to be a high awareness of vaping devices, with 98 per cent of smokers and recent quitters saying they were aware of e-cigarettes. Seventy-seven percent of respondents reported having attempted vaping, while 22 percent reported currently using e-cigarettes at least monthly and 11 per cent reported using them every day.

Professor Edwards says use was generally similar between Māori and non-Māori participants. Daily use was greatest among recent quitters (23 per cent) compared to current smokers (eight per cent) and among 18-24 year olds (19 percent ) compared to older age classes (10 per cent). The most frequent reasons given for using e-cigarettes were to help quit (78 per cent) or cut down on smoking (81 per cent).

Professor Edwards says the survey results are promising, particularly the findings that use is most common among recent quitters and that a high proportion of regular users are utilizing e-cigarettes to quit smoking.

“This suggests e-cigarettes are contributing to reducing smoking prevalence as well as achieving the aim of Aotearoa getting smokefree by 2025.

“However, it’s of concern that e-cigarette use is more prevalent among 18-24 year olds. If e-cigarettes are to make a significant contribution to reducing smoking, their use needs to be greater among older age groups.”

While the research shows more people are using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, more smokers reported using e-cigarettes on a trial basis, instead of frequently, which suggests there might be barriers to more sustained use, ” he says.

“The most common potential barriers identified were that 68 percent of participants thought vaping was less satisfying than smoking and 39 percent wrongly believed that e-cigarettes were more harmful than smoking cigarettes, or were unsure (15 per cent).”

He states such beliefs underline the importance of public education, like through the Vaping Facts website.

“This could inform smokers about the relative costs and harmfulness of smoking and e-cigarettes to encourage individuals who smoke to quit or switch completely to vaping, and invite people who smoke to go to specialist retailers to get expert advice about the best vaping products for them.”

The most common motivation for using e-cigarettes would be to save money compared to smoking, suggesting that using the tax system to maintain the purchase price of cigarettes high relative to vaping may inspire more smokers to quit.

Professor Edwards warns New Zealand is unlikely to achieve its goal of becoming smokefree by 2025, particularly in terms of Māori and Pacific peoples, with more action needed.

E-cigarettes are making a useful contribution, but much more is needed to get to a Smokefree Aotearoa for all New Zealanders. A comprehensive strategy is needed that makes smoked tobacco products less appealing, addictive, and accessible to complement the impact of alternative products like e-cigarettes in reducing smoking prevalence.”

Professor Richard Edwards, University of Otago

Journal reference:

Edwards, R., et al. (2020) Patterns of Use of Vaping Products among Smokers: Findings from the 2016–2018 International Tobacco Control (ITC) New Zealand Surveys. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

About Author