Wellington – Researchers have found that people who smoke are increasingly using e-cigarettes to try to quit smoking. The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that between 2016 and 2018 the level of awareness, as well as the use of e-cigarettes, increased among smokers and those who had recently quit smoking.
“E-cigarette use was most common among those aged 18-24 years and among those who had recently quit smoking,” said study author Richard Edwards from the University of Otago in New Zealand. The research is part 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 who smoked or had recently quit smoking. The study found there to be a high awareness of vaping devices, with 98 per cent of smokers and recent quitters saying they were aware of e-cigarettes.
According to the researchers, 77 per cent of the respondents reported having tried vaping, while 22 per cent reported currently using e-cigarettes at least monthly and 11 per cent reported using them daily. Daily use was greatest among recent quitters (23 per cent) compared to current smokers (eight per cent) and among 18-24-year-olds (19 per cent) compared to older age groups (10 per cent). The most common reasons given for using e-cigarettes were to help quit (78 per cent) or cut down on smoking (81 per cent).
The results are promising, particularly the findings that use is most common among recent quitters and that a high proportion of regular users are using e-cigarettes to quit smoking. “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 authors wrote. “While the research shows more people are using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, more smokers reported using e-cigarettes on a trial basis, rather than regularly, which suggests there might be barriers to more sustained use,” they noted.