Vapers using low- rather than high-nicotine e-liquids in electronic cigarettes may be using their devices more intensely, potentially increasing the risk of exposure to toxins in the vapor, according to a medicalxpress.com story citing new research funded by Cancer Research UK and published in Addiction on June 7.
Researchers, based at London South Bank University, studied 20 e-cigarette users and found that people using low-nicotine e-liquid in their devices puffed more deeply and more often than did those using high-nicotine liquid. Those using low-nicotine liquids also increased the power of their vaping devices when possible.
Despite this ‘compensatory’ behavior, the low nicotine vapers were unable to get as much nicotine as could the high-nicotine group. But in their quest to do so their puffing behavior may have increased their exposure to toxins such as formaldehyde, a chemical formed when the e-cigarette liquid is heated.
While there can be toxic chemicals present in vapor, they are far fewer and generally at lower concentrations than in tobacco smoke. Evidence so far still shows that the use of both high- and low-nicotine e-cigarettes is far less harmful than is smoking.
“Some vapers might believe that starting out on a low nicotine strength is a good thing, but they should be aware that reducing their nicotine concentration is likely to result in the use of more e-liquid,” said Dr. Lynne Dawkins, lead author of the study.
“This obviously comes with a financial cost but also possibly with a health cost. The results of our study suggest that smokers who want to switch to vaping may be better to start with higher, rather than lower, nicotine levels to reduce compensatory behavior and the amount of e-liquid used.”