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Original Research: Tobacco Cessation and Prevention |

Do e-Cigarettes Have the Potential to Compete With Conventional Cigarettes?Uptake of Electronic Cigarettes: A Survey of Conventional Cigarette Smokers’ Experiences With e-Cigarettes

Eva Kralikova, MD, PhD; Jan Novak; Oliver West, MSc; Alexandra Kmetova, MD; Peter Hajek, PhD
Author and Funding Information

From the Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (Drs Kralikova and Kmetova and Mr Novak) and Tobacco Dependence Centre, 3rd Department of Medicine (Drs Kralikova and Kmetova), First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague and General University Hospital, Prague, Czech Republic; and UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (Mr West and Prof Hajek), Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary, University of London, London, England.

Correspondence to: Peter Hajek, PhD, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary, University of London, London, E1 2AD, England; e-mail: p.hajek@qmul.ac.uk


Funding/Support: The project was supported by AMVIS-KONTAKT ME 09014 and P25/LF1/2 grants to Dr Kralikova.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2013;144(5):1609-1614. doi:10.1378/chest.12-2842
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Background:  Electronic cigarettes (ECs) are becoming increasingly popular globally. If they were to replace conventional cigarettes, it could have a substantial impact on public health. To evaluate EC’s potential for competing with conventional cigarettes as a consumer product, we report the first data, to our knowledge, on the proportion of smokers who try ECs and become regular users.

Methods:  A total of 2,012 people seen smoking or buying cigarettes in the Czech Republic were approached to answer questions about smoking, with no mention made of ECs to avoid the common bias in surveys of EC users. During the interview, the volunteers’ experience with ECs was then discussed.

Results:  A total of 1,738 smokers (86%) participated. One-half reported trying ECs at least once. Among those who tried ECs, 18.3% (95% CI, 0.15.7%-20.9%) reported using them regularly, and 14% (95% CI, 11.6%-16.2%) used them daily. On average, regular users used ECs daily for 7.1 months. The most common reason for using ECs was to reduce consumption of conventional cigarettes; 60% of regular EC users reported that ECs helped them to achieve this. Being older and having a more favorable initial experience with ECs explained 19% of the variance in progressing to regular EC use.

Conclusions:  Almost one-fifth of smokers who try ECs once go on to become regular users. ECs may develop into a genuine competitor to conventional cigarettes. Government agencies preparing to regulate ECs need to ensure that such moves do not create a market monopoly for conventional cigarettes.


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