The electronic cigarette is healthier?
Doctor Jacques Granger (Department of respiratory diseases) and Dr. Brigitte Cornette (Health Center Periguex) have examined the effects of the electronic cigarette during 3 months. On November 30, 2012, their study was published.
The electronic cigarette, also known as e-cigarette, simulates certain enjoyment experiences of tobacco smoke. The device itself consists of an atomizer, a battery and a reservoir for the e-liquid (e-liquid). The vapor produced contains nicotine, Propylene glycol, flavors or aromas while in tobacco smoke there are about 4,000 toxic substances, of which at least 50 substances are carcinogenic. Because no combustion takes place, one can't speak of smoke, but of vapor. This vapor is a mixture of steam and air which rapidly disappears.
The lack of clinical trials is the reason that the electronic cigarette is not yet approved of as a healthy tool to help with quit smoking. Nevertheless, there are still many users who choose to smoke electronically with success.
The Department of Respiratory Diseases of Dordogne (in France) therefore decided to launch in collaboration with the Health Center of Periguex an investigation. This center offers treatments to quit smoking and is specialized prevention and smoking addiction.
The main objective is to evaluate in smokers acceptance and tolerance of electronic cigarettes who:
- are aware of the importance of the risks of smoking on their health.
- have tried before to quit smoking without succes..
- wanted not immediately to quit smoking.
The secondary goal is to let smokers think about their addiction and any subsequent attempts to quit smoking. Smokers
About 100 smokers who had not given an intention to quit smoking, were asked to smoke electronically for a period of 3 months. They were allowed to alternate e-smoking with regular smoking.
All the smokers were already been examined by a known pulmonologist, had even been a failed quit attempt behind or were in treatment at the health center.
More than 120 smokers participated in an initial interview, 21 were excluded after an observation because they did not meet all the criteria. The 100 remaining candidates consisted of 64 women and 36 men. Nobody of them had ever smoked electric before.
All smokers smoked more than 10 years, 83% were in the age group 25-59 years, 52% smoked 20 or more cigarettes per day (the others were smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day), 70% started smoking before the age of 18 year (30% began even before the age of 15 years). The Fagerström score (a nicotine addiction test) was 4 or higher with 76% of users, 30% of the candidates had a score of 7 or even higher.
Weight, heart rate, spirometry (PFT) and the carbon monoxide levels were measured by the Health Center at the beginning. Questionnaire were scheduled after 6 and 12 months.
For three months, the candidates were given different entry models of electronic cigarettes for free. These were disposable cigarettes in the beginning, later they received rechargeable e-cigarettes. The e-cigarettes had all the tobacco flavor and a nicotine dose of 11 mg/ml or 16 mg/ml.
Results after 3 months
The following results are generic and do not take into account the different e-cigarettes, doses of nicotine or flavoring agents. The results are based on 74 subjects because 26 people decided to stop during the study. Seventeen people stopped within the first month. The main reason for dropping was the fact they lost their interest in the research and the dissatisfaction about the e-cigarette.
Although the study was not originally aimed at stopping smoking, still 8 people (11% of smokers) have quit smoking. Almost all of these people directly stopped smoking when they started to smoke the e-cig.
These smokers are mainly found in the group that had smoked between 11 and 20 tobacco cigarettes per day.
Less smoking (mixed use)
For those who were alternately smoking and e-smoking, it applies to everyone that they were smoking less in total. Almost 68% confirmed that they still smoke less that half.
Satisfaction with the use of the electronic cigarette
Nearly 35% stated that they felt absolutely no desire to traditional tobacco cigarettes any more. Almost 40% said that they had sometimes a little desire to smoke a regular cigarette. The other people suffered from their desire to smoke a traditional cigarette.
Almost 90% of the participants, stated that having the electronic cigarette in their hands was different (weight, feel, texture) from a normal cigarette. However, all of them reported that they got used to the e-cigarette very fast.
Almost everyone told that they received pleasant reactions from non-smokers, family and people at work or in public.
Almost two thirds of the test subjects experienced positive effects on their health after using the electronic cigarette. However, 15% had minor side effects (mouth, lips or throat were initially slightly irritated). After the 3 months, the heart rate of all participants was reduced (which is very advantageous). The carbon monoxide was also declined by everyone and even disappeared completely to the people who had stopped smoking normal cigarettes.
The weight gain of the candidates was moderate. The people who had completely stopped traditional smoking, but still remained to e-smoke had indeed a much less increase. The FVC (Forced Vital Capacity) was improved with everyone. The MEPS (Maximum espiratory pressure per second, in other words, how much can you exhale) remained stable or was improved slightly when using the e-cigarette.
After 3 months of electronic smoking 8% think that they are going to stop smoking the e-cigarette to return to traditional smoking. Nine percent say they want to quit smoking and they think they will only e-smoke in the future. 28% wants to quit stop both regular and electronic smoking and rest declares that they would like to combine smoking and e-smoking.
Additional observations are expected at the end of the 6th and 12th month.
The average satisfaction score of participants was very high: 9.5 / 10.
Among the shortcomings of the observation and research be noted that there were too few participants to make a real statistical conclusion. There was also no control group, and there several electronic cigarettes (maybe they were good, maybe they were bad) used. Moreover, there was also too limited choice of flavors and nicotine strengths. With a wider range, the results might have been even more favorable.
The use of the electronic cigarette caused a significant stronger decrease (at least half) in smoking behavior in 72% of smokers, while 11% completely stopped smoking. The other participants are also smoking less, however, their number of cigarettes is not halved.
The first study (be performed with limited resources) in France confirms the potential of the electronic cigarette for the protection of the health of smokers.
There were no major problems during the three months and this opens the doors to a larger and more comprehensive research.