Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the developed world. According to Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) smoking accounts for about 100,000 deaths a year in Britain alone.
It is generally accepted that e-cigarettes deliver nicotine in a safer way than traditional cigarettes, but new research published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research claims there are huge variations in the amount of nicotine produced by the devices.
Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University have developed the first model that can predict (with up to 90 per cent accuracy) how much nicotine a particular e-cigarette emits.
The researchers gathered data about the voltage and tank size of a sample of e-cigarette devices, as well as the average length of a user’s puff on the device.
The study found that long-term users are more likely to inhale for longer periods, and absorb more nicotine than novice users. Thomas Eissenberg, a member of the research team, explains the findings:
‘Laboratory results showed that nicotine yields from 15 puffs on an e-cigarette varied by more than 50 times across various device, liquid and user behaviour conditions.’
Eissenberg believes that without more regulation on e-cigarettes, users could become more addicted to nicotine through these devices than they did by smoking conventional cigarettes.
‘When used as intended, an electronic cigarette should not produce a nicotine yield in excess of that of a combustible cigarette, a device that we already know has lethal health effects. If it does, then we are essentially making an already addictive drug delivery system even more addictive.’
It is worth pointing out that the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco is partly funded by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer, companies which earn billions selling nicotine replacement products.