E-cigarettes: More Nicotine Than You Bargained For

Electronic cigarettes have slowly infiltrated newsstands and bodegas; standing right along side their traditional tobacco-based counterparts as they grow in popularity. While e-cigarette users can now enjoy their smoke-less nicotine fix with far less toxic chemicals, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re free from traditional health risks associated with regular cigarettes. Because of their novelty, the regulation of e-cigarettes is next to none. A recent study published by the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco provides some much need insight on e-cigarettes.

The purpose of the study was to see how different factors in e-cigarettes ,as well as users habits, could affect the intake of nicotine. Design wise, e-cigarettes generally have an electronic heating source that vaporizes the liquid, which is inhaled by the user. Here is where the similarities end. Different brands of e-cigarettes come with different design features and utilize a range of voltages for the heating element. Some designs even give users more than one voltage option. The liquid part of the e-cigarette (e-liquid) can differ in flavors and vary in nicotine levels.

The study saw that the voltage level in e-cigarettes play a major role in how much nicotine is inhaled. As the voltage of the device increased, so did the amount of nicotine consumed. The researchers believe that the increase of voltage ultimately increases the rate of evaporation of the e-liquid, providing more vapors to inhale. As you would expect, the nicotine levels in the e-liquids also affect the amount of nicotine users inhale. The greater the concentration of nicotine in the e-liquid, the more nicotine was consumed.

In terms of user habits, the “puff topography” or way that smokers inhale the vapors can affect nicotine consumption. Puff topography includes speed of the puff, length of the puff, and volume of the puff. The researchers found that the most important factor that effected nicotine levels is the puff length.

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Here’s to feeling good all the time

Depending on the voltage of the e-cigarette, the nicotine concentration and the puff length, e-cigarette users can actually take in more nicotine than if they smoked traditional tobacco-based cigarettes. For future regulation, the FDA may consider regulating the design of e-cigarettes, putting a maximum cap on the voltage allowed and include electronics that do not allow puffs to exceed a certain duration.

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