WASHINGTON, Jan 16: Watching someone use new generation e-cigarettes or vape pens may stimulate the urge to smoke in young adults, even in those who have never smoked before, a new study has found.
Researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Centre in the US found that young adult smokers exposed to the use of traditional cigarettes, first-generation e-cigarettes or second generation vape pens experienced an immediate, significant and lasting increase in the desire to smoke.
This extended even to subjects who had never used the newer devices.
“The new e-cigarettes, known as vape pens, are now larger and more powerful devices,” said Andrea King, professor at the University of Chicago.
“They have low resemblance to cigarettes, so some people were hoping they might not produce the same urge to smoke,” said King.
“But we found that they do stimulate the urge. Vape pens look different but they share too many salient features of the act of smoking – including inhalation, exhalation and hand-to-mouth behaviours,” she said.
“This makes them a potent trigger, encouraging people to smoke. Their impact is roughly equal to watching someone light up a cigarette. They made the young adults in our study want to smoke,” she added.
According to the survey, e-cigarette use is “strongly associated with the use of other tobacco products among youth and young adults, including combustible tobacco products.”
Researchers designed an experiment to test the vape pen’s effects on the urge to smoke in young adults, men and women aged 18 to 35, a highly susceptible group.
The 108 subjects of the study were ranged from very light to pack-a-day smokers. On average, they smoked 8.7 cigarettes a day on six to seven days each week. More than 80 per cent had used e-cigarettes and almost 30 per cent had used one in the past month.
Over an hour-long session the volunteers conversed with a member of the research team who pretended to be a fellow volunteer “randomly assigned” to consume different products as study tasks.
During these interactions, the pretending volunteer smoked either a combustible cigarette or a vape pen. Both cues increased desire among research subjects for a cigarette or an e-cigarette.
The level and duration of desire to smoke among volunteers was the same whether they observed their “colleague” smoking a cigarette or using a vape pen.
The study was published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research. (AGENCIES)