Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigs)

Views of Aficionados and Clinical/Public Health Perspectives

J. Foulds; S. Veldheer; A. Berg


Int J Clin Pract. 2011;65(10):1037-1042. 

In This Article


Table 1 shows the basic descriptive data for the whole sample and also compares those who have used e-cigs for less than a year, with those who have used them for a year or more. The majority were male, employed full-time and had not used a tobacco product within the previous month. All had previously used tobacco but one had never been a regular tobacco user; 88% of the participants described themselves as ex-cigarette smokers (some had switched to smokeless tobacco or cigars prior to trying e-cigs) and overall they had been heavy smokers, smoking 25 cigarettes per day, smoking within a half hour of waking in the morning. They had tried to quit smoking an average of nine times before they started using e-cigs and two-thirds had previously tried to quit smoking by using an FDA-approved smoking cessation medication.

The majority of the respondents had used e-cigs for at least a year and used it on a daily basis. When asked to estimate the number of uses per day, with each use defined as '10 min or 10–20 puffs', the median number of uses was 20. Participants mentioned that this question was difficult to answer because, unlike a cigarette that is generally smoked as a whole and then discarded, e-cigs can be used more frequently but with fewer puffs per session, because there is no need to 'finish the cig' in one sitting. Most (73%) started using e-cigs with the intention of quitting smoking and almost all (99%) felt that the e-cig had helped them to succeed in quitting smoking.

Two-thirds used e-cig liquid with a medium to high concentration of nicotine (13 mg +/cartridge). As shown in Figure 2, all of those who felt that they absorbed more nicotine from their e-cig than from their cigarettes (who were in the minority) used e-cig liquid with a concentration of over 12 mg.

Figure 2.

Comparison of perceived nicotine absorption from e-cig vs. regular cigarette in experienced e-cig users by strength of nicotine used (mg per catridge)

There were few differences between those who have used e-cigs for less than a year and those who have used for longer, perhaps because the 'short-term users' in this sample were themselves relatively experienced users (median 5 months). Surprisingly, the long-term users typically used slightly lower nicotine strength liquid.

One interesting finding was that very few of the participants (8%) in this survey were using the most widely sold types of e-cigs, that are the same size as a regular cigarette, often powered by a single rechargeable 3.7 volt AAA-sized battery, and using replaceable screw-in e-liquid cartridges (often sold under brand names such as 'NJOY' and 'Smoking Everywhere' in USA). Table 2 shows that the vast majority of experienced e-cig users were using e-cig models that were generally larger in size, with higher voltage battery power [referred to by users as 'personal vapourizers' (PVs)]. The majority of long-term users were using e-cigs that had modified battery housing (usually to accommodate multiple or larger batteries), whereas the majority of those who have used for less than a year were using a model of e-cig that had been launched in the U.S.A. 10 months prior to the survey and had a large/long life proprietary battery.


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