E-Cigarettes may enforce nicotine dependence
A new study from Harvard School of Public Health in the USA has found that low-tar electronic cigarettes may reinforce addiction to nicotine.
Electronic or e-cigarettes are often pitched as a “healthier” alternative to cigarettes and a way to help smokers quit.
The study published in the Tobacco Control Journal, volume 24, issue 2, published June 2015 and lead by Dr Hilel Alpert, found that pyrazine additives included in low tar e-cigarettes may be a driving force in smoking addiction.
Pyrazines and addiction
Pyrazines are compounds first introduced to low-tar cigarettes when manufacturers wanted to make these types of cigarettes more appealing to smokers.
As soon as it became more widely known that cigarettes have adverse health effects and smoking numbers dropped, low-tar or light cigarettes were introduced as an alternative.
These cigarettes lacked the taste and smell of usual cigarettes and so pyrazines were added to help recreate these qualities.
The research has however found that several pyrazine flavour additives appear to have a role in boosting the amount of dopamine or good feelings a smoker receives up inhaling.
Pyrazines are also thought to make smoking easier and smoother. Researchers are worried that ultimately pyrazines increase the appeal of cigarettes and make it simpler for non-smokers to pick up the habit.
“They could increase the attractiveness of smoking, particularly among youth,” researchers suggest.
The spread of E-Cigarettes
Within Australia, it is currently illegal to sell or purchase e-cigarettes with nicotine in them.
In Victoria and New South Wales, retailers can sell e-cigarettes without nicotine. Consumers can instead buy flavoured cigarettes, varieties of which include vanilla, apple and more.
Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland ban the sale of all types of e-cigarettes.
Australians can import cigarettes with nicotine in for personal use from overseas. They must do this under the Therapeutic Goods Administration personal importation scheme which requires a medical prescription. This is because nicotine is considered a dangerous ‘poison’.
In the US, where the latest study was conducted, e-cigarettes are available for purchase so long as they do not use additives that characterise flavours, such as sweet and sour. Flavours that were in cigarettes before the ban, such as liquorice, cocoa or vanilla are still available for purchase.