Scientists from the University of Patras-Greece, Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre, in Greece, and their French colleague from the French National Research Institute for Health and Medical Research analyzed the data from the 2014 Special Eurobarometer survey on smoking and the use of electronic cigarettes.
Their study concerns 27,460 EU citizensaged 15 years and more and constitutes one of the largest population ever interrogated on this topic, as noticed by one of the co-authors, Pr K. Poulas who points out the the power of the Eurobarometer questionnaire in assessing electronic cigarette use in the European Union.
“The questionnaire of the Eurobarometer is probably one of the most detailed ever used in analyzing electronic cigarette use on a population level. It provides detailed information about the frequency of use, differentiates experimentation from regular use and examines the use of nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes. Moreover, the survey enrolled a large sample of Europeans which was representative of the total EU population. A similar design should be used in all population studies.”
The authors conclude about the EU study that:
- e-cigarette use appears to be largely confined to current or former smokers;
- for people who have never smoked current e-cigarette use is rare;
- for people who have never smoke nicotine use is also rare;
- Over 30% of current e-cigarette users polled reported smoking cessation and reduction.
More than 6 million smokers in the European Union have quit smoking and more than 9 million have reduced smoking consumption with the use of electronic cigarettes, according to the study. Above the 508 million of Europeans, as many as 48.5 million have ever tried electronic cigarettes, but 7.5 million are current users. And among current users, 35% have quit smoking while an additional 32% have reduced smoking consumption.
What do we know about non-smokers?
In a word of controversy over the use of the electronic cigarettes by non-smokers and a potential gateway to smoking, European researchers are reassuring. Are non-smokers attracted by the e-cigarette or at risk of being addicted to it?
To this question, Jacques Le Houezec explains: “In non-smokers we observed some experimentation with electronic cigarettes, but regular use is minimal. Just 1.3% of non-smokers reported current use of nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes and 0.09% reported daily use. Practically, there is no current or regular use of nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes by non-smokers, so the concern that electronic cigarettes can be a gateway to smoking is largely rejected by our findings.”
For Public Health, what is the impact of the e-cigarette?
Konstantinos Farsalinos answers: “The European Union data show that the use of electronic cigarettes seems to have a positive impact on public health for two main reasons:
- High smoking cessation and reduction rates are observed, and
- Electronic cigarette use is largely confined to smokers (current and former), with minimal use by non-smokers.“
During his oral presentation at the Vapexpo event, September 2015, in Paris, the scientist described these unambiguous results, especially for France. He pointed out that vaping could not be considered as a gateway to tobacco in France, a snapshot of what he was preparing over the entire EU. In this presentation, he also demonstrated how official conclusions from the EU could be very different from those of specialists.