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Passing E-Cig Laws May Increase Traditional Cigarette Use

July 19, 2019

Though recent campaigns have aimed to deter younger individuals from using e-cigarettes, government regulations may propel those who use both e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes to increase their use of the latter, according to a new study. 

In fact, if a law were created and passed that minimized nicotine in e-cigarettes, nearly half of survey respondents reported that they would smoke more combustible cigarettes. 

To assess the impact of hypothetical laws like this on young adults’ smoking habits, the researchers conducted a survey of 240 young adults aged 18 to 28 years who used both e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes. The participants had been recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk in June 2017.

When presented with the hypothetical regulations, the respondents stated that, while they would reduce their use of e-cigarettes, they would increase their use of combustible cigarettes. 

In all, 47% of respondents said they would smoke more tobacco cigarettes if new laws minimized the permitted nicotine content in e-cigarettes. If new laws limited the ability to customize e-cigarettes, 22% of respondents said they would smoke more tobacco cigarettes. Further, if new laws limited e-cigarette flavors, 17% would smoke more tobacco cigarettes. 

The most likely respondents to report intentions of switching to combustible cigarettes were those who used flavored e-liquid, e-liquid with a high nicotine content, or customizable e-cigarettes.

“Given that 38% of tobacco users are dual or multiple tobacco product users—and that 23% of this group specifically use combusted cigarettes and e-cigarettes—these findings serve as a useful baseline indicator of what a significant proportion of tobacco product users believe they would do in response to regulations,” the researchers concluded. 

—Colleen Murphy


Pacek LR, Rass O, Sweitzer MM, Oliver JA, McClernon FJ. Young adult dual combusted cigarette and e-cigarette users’ anticipated responses to hypothetical e-cigarette market restrictions [published online July 15, 2019]. Subst Use Misuse

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