E-cigarettes may help people decrease their dependence on combustible cigarettes without increasing their overall nicotine dependence, according to a recent Penn State College of Medicine study.
The researchers enrolled 520 participants interested in reducing their cigarette intake but with no plans or interest to quit smoking and instructed them to reduce their cigarette consumption over the six-month study period. Participants randomly received an e-cigarette that delivered 36, 8 or 0 mg/mL of nicotine, or a cigarette substitute that contained no tobacco, as an aid in their efforts to reduce their cigarette consumption.
At six months, all participants in the e-cigarette groups reported significant, decreased cigarette consumption, with those in the 36 mg/mL group smoking the least number of cigarettes per day. Those in the e-cigarette groups reported significantly lower dependence on the Penn State Cigarette Dependence Index than those in the cigarette substitute group.
“Our results suggest that using e-cigarettes or a cigarette substitute to reduce cigarette consumption can result in a reduction of self-reported cigarette use and dependence,” said Jessica Yingst, who directs the College of Medicine’s Doctor of Public Health Program. “Importantly, use of the high-concentration e-cigarette did not increase overall nicotine dependence and was associated with a greater reduction in cigarette smoking compared to the cigarette substitute.”