Vapers using low nicotine ecigs face a potential increased risk of exposure to toxins and might be better off using high nicotine ecigarettes, a new study has shown.
Scientists at South Bank University, funded by Cancer Research UK, found that that ecig users who vaped with a lower level of nicotine inhaled more deeply than those using a higher level of nicotine. The deeper inhale potentially increased their risk of exposure to toxins.
Lower nicotine users also puffed more often than those with higher nicotine levels in their eliquid. This behaviour may have increased their risk of exposure to toxins such as formaldehyde, a chemical sometimes formed when the ecigarette liquid is heated.
High Nicotine Users
But the study also showed that vapers compensating for lower nicotine levels still didn’t get as much nicotine as users with higher levels of nicotine. The low nicotine group also reported a stronger urge to vape, more acute withdrawal symptoms and were less satisfied after use.
Similar evidence was found in a 2012 study ‘Nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation’ when quitters used nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in attempting to quit. The research by scientists showed smokers need a sufficiently high dose of nicotine to increase their chances of successfully giving up tobacco by reducing cravings.
Dr Lynne Dawkins from the South Bank University said: "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 behaviour and the amount of eliquid used.
“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 eliquid. This obviously comes with a financial cost but also possibly with a health cost.
Exposure to Chemicals
“Although e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking, the vapour can still contain some potentially harmful chemicals that present a higher risk to health than nicotine, which is relatively safe. Our research shows that more intense vaping behaviour associated with using low nicotine eliquid has the potential to increase users’ exposure to some of these chemicals. To draw any firm conclusions more research on a larger scale is needed.”
Alison Cox, director of prevention at Cancer Research UK, said: “Let’s be clear. While there are potentially harmful chemicals present in the ecigarette vapour, there are far more in tobacco smoke. The best thing smokers can do for their health is to stop smoking, and switching to ecigarettes is one way to do this.
“Tailored help and support from local Stop Smoking Service offers the best chance of stopping smoking for good. But this research suggests that a low nicotine approach may not be the best for everyone or the safest path to a successful attempt to give up. First time vapers should be prepared to experiment to find what suits them best and helps them to give up for good.”