Adult smokers who switch to e-cigarettes may be more likely to improve health and well-being, according to new research from the University of Washington.
The study tracked changes in health and social functioning among smokers in two stages of adulthood, at age 30 and again at 39. Approximately one-third of smokers switched to vaping up to 39 years or all the time. The group reported better physical health, more exercise and more active social activity, the study found.
“Despite the obvious risk to non-smokers, electronic cigarettes have the potential to play a health-promoting role in smokers ’lives,” said study co-author Marina Epstein, a research fellow at the Social Development Research Group at UW’s School of Social Work.
A study that was recently published in Drug and alcohol dependence, taken from a broader longitudinal study, the Seattle Social Development Project, which in 1985 began observing about 800 fifth-graders in Seattle’s elementary schools. The sample for the current study focused on 156 of those participants who reported smoking at age 30 and smoking or vaping at age 39.
E-cigarettes first appeared in the United States in the mid-2000s, around the time the study participants turned 30 years old. By 2018, 10% of adult smokers in the country also used e-cigarettes. Vaping is especially popular with teens and young adults; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies e-cigarettes as the most popular tobacco product among young people in the United States, estimating that nearly 21% of young people use e-cigarettes. Previous research by UW and others has shown that teens and young fans may lead to later cigarette use. “Thus, e-cigarettes were a disaster for public health,” said lead author Rick Costerman, a scientist with the Social Development Research Group.
At the same time, while vaping carries certain risks – the aerosol contains nicotine, small amounts of heavy metals and other ultra-thin and cancerous particles that can get into the lungs, the CDC considers them safer than traditional, or flammable, cigarettes.
Given the general perception of e-cigarettes as a “healthier” alternative, the researchers wanted to study the behavior of smokers who switch to e-cigarettes for some time or all the time as they approach middle age. The research team collected a number of generally accepted indicators of healthy aging and well-being, such as overall physical and mental health, healthy behavior and social activitiesas well as education and income levels. They then surveyed participants aged 30 and 39 about this information and about how often they engage in certain activities.
Of the 156 study participants, 64% smoked only flammable cigarettes at age 39; 28% smoked and waved; and 8% vape only. Survey results show that more frequent vaping – compared to smoking – is associated with improvement physical healthmore exercise, more active social participation and higher socio-economic status.
“Although the study may not show a causal relationship, we believe that because e-cigarettes have less stigma, less odor and are less physically harmful, they can increase opportunities to promote smokers ’health. E-cigarette users are more likely to be in places that promote physical activity and have more opportunities to interact with non-smokers, ”Costerman said.
No association was found between switching to vape and better mental healthless frequent use of other substances, such as alcohol, or smoking by your partner or close peers (although the wider social environment of vapers may be healthier).
Overall, researchers emphasize that e-cigarettes still have significant public health negatives, but this study shows that smokers who turn to vaping, sometimes or instead of cigarettes, may have more opportunities for a healthier lifestyle. They say it doesn’t mean vape is healthy, but for people who already smoke and can’t quit, it may be related to other healthy treatments.
Rick Costerman et al., Is e-cigarette use linked to improved health and functioning among middle-aged smokers ?, Drug and alcohol dependence (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / j.drugalcdep.2022.109395
University of Washington
Citation: Smokers who switch to e-cigarettes can take other healthy treatments (2022, May 12), received May 12, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-05-smokers-e-cigarettes- healthy-routines.html
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