World-first research finds vaping likely to be less addictive than smoking
03 February 2021
New research has found vaping is likely to be less addictive than smoking as smokers are more likely to smoke regardless of cost whereas vapers will set a limit on what they are willing to spend on e-cigarettes. The study by LSBU compared the monetary value placed on tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes by cigarette smokers and vapers.
The two central research findings are:
Financial Costs: Vapers are more sensitive to rising costs of e-cigarettes than smokers are to tobacco cigarettes. This means that vapers place a lower limit on what they will spend to buy e-cigarettes whereas smokers would be willing to pay very high prices to get their nicotine. If offered a choice of money or access to their products, smokers will always choose cigarettes, whereas under certain circumstances vapers will sometimes choose money. Given that drug addiction is characterised by doing whatever it takes to access the substance, these findings suggest that vaping is less addictive than smoking.
Self-reported Addiction: When directly asked about addiction to their product, level of craving, how much they want it and difficulties with not using nicotine, vapers and smokers gave similar responses. Vaping appears to share similar features to smoking such as automatic response patterns or habits.
The popularity of electronic cigarettes in UK has increased by around 400% since 2012, from 700,000 users in 2012 to 3.6 million in 2019. Over 90% of e-cigarette users are current or ex-smokers and e-cigarettes are the most popular method for quitting smoking in the UK.
Dr Nicky Rycroft, Deputy Head of the Division of Psychology at LSBU, said, “Our research has found for the first time that because vapers are more sensitive to rising costs than smokers, vaping is likely to be less addictive than smoking. Vapers are more likely to set a lower limit to spend on e-cigarettes, than smokers who have a higher spending limit for cigarettes.
“As vaping is less harmful and less likely to be addictive than smoking, this research may reassure concerns about continued nicotine addiction when switching from smoking to vaping.
“This world-first research is further evidence of LSBU’s leading role on health and science research in the UK.”