Acute electronic cigarette use: nicotine delivery and subjective effects in regular users
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- Dawkins, L. & Corcoran, O. Psychopharmacology (2014) 231: 401. doi:10.1007/s00213-013-3249-8
Electronic cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular among smokers worldwide. Commonly reported reasons for use include the following: to quit smoking, to avoid relapse, to reduce urge to smoke, or as a perceived lower-risk alternative to smoking. Few studies, however, have explored whether electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) deliver measurable levels of nicotine to the blood.
This study aims to explore in experienced users the effect of using an 18-mg/ml nicotine first-generation e-cigarette on blood nicotine, tobacco withdrawal symptoms, and urge to smoke.
Fourteen regular e-cigarette users (three females), who are abstinent from smoking and e-cigarette use for 12 h, each completed a 2.5 h testing session. Blood was sampled, and questionnaires were completed (tobacco-related withdrawal symptoms, urge to smoke, positive and negative subjective effects) at four stages: baseline, 10 puffs, 60 min of ad lib use and a 60-min rest period.
Complete sets of blood were obtained from seven participants. Plasma nicotine concentration rose significantly from a mean of 0.74 ng/ml at baseline to 6.77 ng/ml 10 min after 10 puffs, reaching a mean maximum of 13.91 ng/ml by the end of the ad lib puffing period. Tobacco-related withdrawal symptoms and urge to smoke were significantly reduced; direct positive effects were strongly endorsed, and there was very low reporting of adverse effects.
These findings demonstrate reliable blood nicotine delivery after the acute use of this brand/model of e-cigarette in a sample of regular users. Future studies might usefully quantify nicotine delivery in relation to inhalation technique and the relationship with successful smoking cessation/harm reduction.