Smoking Cessation

E-cigs from a public health perspective

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) have experienced rapid growth in popularity, but little is known about how they are used.

Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University, College of Medicine, in Hershey, surveyed the pattern of e-cig use and their impact on tobacco use.

First, the details.

  • 104 experienced e-cig users were interviewed.

And, the results.

  • 78% of e-cig users hadn’t used any tobacco in the prior 30 days.
    • Previously, they smoked an average of 25 cigarettes per day.
    • They tried to quit smoking an average of 9 times before starting e-cigs.
  • Two-thirds had tried to quit smoking using an FDA-approved smoking cessation medication.
  • Most had used e-cigs daily for at least a year.
  • Three quarters started using e-cigs in order to quit smoking.
    • Almost all felt that the e-cig helped them succeed in quitting smoking.
  • Two-thirds used e-cig liquid with a medium to high concentration of nicotine (13 mg +).
  • Only 8% were using the most widely sold types of cigarette-sized e-cigs that are typically powered by a single 3.7-volt battery.
  • Instead most used e-cigs designed to enable the atomizer to more consistently achieve a hotter more intense vapor.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded that the medical community needs more data before recommending e-cig.

“However, for those who have successfully switched to e-cigs, the priority should be staying off cigarettes, rather than quitting e-cigs.”

In other words, it’s preferable to be hooked on e-cigs than cigarettes.

11/21/11 21:32 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.