E-cigarettes are being used by smokers who are trying to quit. Researchers at the University of Otago, Wellington, discovered that there is an increase in the use of e-cigarettes among smokers and those who had formerly quit smoking.

According to the principal investigator of the study, Professor Richard Edwards from the University’s Department of Public Health, e-cigarette was more popular among those aged 18-24 years and among those who had formerly quit smoking.

The research is a section of the New Zealand arm of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation (ITC) project and involved surveys with 1,155 people between 2016 and 2017 and 1,020 people in 2018 (400 of them Māori) who smoked or had recently quit smoking.

Volunteers for the research were recruited from the nationally-representative New Zealand Health Survey and were questions about their awareness and use of e-cigarettes, reasons for use and related beliefs.

The 2018 research revealed that there was a high awareness of vaping devices, with 98 per cent of smokers and recent quitters saying they were aware of e-cigarettes. Seventy-seven per cent of respondents claimed that they have tried vaping, 22 per cent said that they were still using e-cigarettes at least monthly and 11 per cent claimed to use them daily.

“This suggests e-cigarettes are contributing to reducing smoking prevalence and to achieving the goal of Aotearoa becoming smokefree by 2025.

It is however quite disturbing that e-cigarettes is more famous among youths (18-24 years of age) rather than among people of older age range.

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

The difference that was noted in the use of e-cigarettes is that most of its users consider it to be less satisfying than the normal cigarette.

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

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

Professor Edwards cautions that New Zealand is quite unlikely to accomplish its objective of becoming smokefree by 2025.

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