Like other types of e-cigarettes, vaporizers, or vape pens, are
battery-powered gadgets with a heating element that turns liquid
nicotine and flavorings into a cloud of vapor that users inhale.
Vape pens are larger, produce bigger clouds of vapor and look less
like traditional cigarettes than other e-cigarettes.
In a lab experiment, researchers randomly assigned 108 young adult
smokers to interact with a person using either traditional
cigarettes or vape pens. Both scenarios led to a similar spike in
participants’ desire to smoke a cigarette, even if they had never
tried a vape pen before.
These results were a surprise, and cast doubt on the potential for
e-cigarettes to work as smoking cessation aid, said lead study
author Andrea King, a psychiatry researcher at the University of
“Smokers needs to be aware that – just like Pavlov’s dogs salivating
to a bell associated with food – cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters,
etc. may increase desire to smoke and alert the brain’s reward
system,” King said by email.
“Our findings would suggest that smokers may want to reduce their
exposures to the use of e-cigarettes as well as traditional
cigarettes,” King added.
Big U.S. tobacco companies are all developing e-cigarettes. In the
decade since the devices came on the U.S. market, public health
experts have debated whether they might help with smoking cessation
or at least be a safer alternative to smoking traditional
combustible cigarettes, or whether they might lure a new generation
into nicotine addiction.
The current study doesn’t explore the safety of the devices, but it
does cast doubt on the potential for e-cigarettes to help blunt
cravings for cigarettes.
In their experiment, King and colleagues testing smoking urges in
108 men and women aged 18 to 35 who currently smoked an average of
about nine cigarettes a day.
More than 80 percent of the participants had also tried e-cigarettes
at least once and almost 30 percent had used one in the past month.
When people volunteered for the study, researchers told them they
would be invited to participate in an experiment assessing their
mood after completing certain tasks or social interactions.
Participants didn’t know the experiment was really assessing their
urge to smoke.
In the lab, participants chatted with researchers posing as other
volunteers. During these interactions, the pretending volunteer
either smoked a traditional tobacco cigarette or used a vape pen.
Both cues increased desire among research subjects for a cigarette
or an e-cigarette.
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The level and duration of desire to smoke among volunteers was the
same whether they observed the researcher smoking a cigarette or
using a vape pen. When the researcher drank bottled water, however,
volunteers had no change in desire to smoke or vape.
At the end of the experiment, researchers tested the ability to
resist smoking in a subset of 26 volunteers who were daily smokers.
Researchers put a cigarette, lighter and ashtray in front of the
volunteers and told them they could smoke or receive 20 cents for
every five minutes they resisted.
Most volunteers held out for only 20 minutes, and this delay was the
same whether their partner had been previously using a vape pen or a
cigarette, the study found.
One limitation of the study is that its small size and lab setting
make it difficult to know how seeing vape pens would influence
smoking urges among smokers in real life situations, the authors
note in Nicotine and Tobacco Research.
Still, the findings suggest being around vapers may make it harder
for smokers to quit, said Dr. Brian Primack, a researcher at the
University of Pittsburgh who wasn’t involved in the study.
“It may lead to more urges to smoke or more relapses,” Primack said
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2k7nWUz Nicotine and Tobacco Research, online
January 12, 2017.
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