Former Smokers Biggest User of E-Cigarettes

Cristine D. Delnevo, PhD, MPH Chair, Professor, and Director, Center for Tobacco Studies Rutgers School of Public Health

Dr. Delnevo Interview with:
Cristine D. Delnevo, PhD, MPH
Chair, Professor, and Director, Center for Tobacco Studies
Rutgers School of Public Health

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Delnevo: We analyzed data from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to examine how e-cigarette use differs by demographic subgroups and smoking status. We found that daily e-cigarette use is highest among former smokers who have quit in the past year. These recent quitters were four times more likely than current smokers to be daily e-cigarette users. Furthermore, regular use of e-cigarettes is rare among those who have never smoked and former smokers who have quit more than a year ago. This suggests that many smokers may be using e-cigarettes to quit, and that the devices are neither attracting nonsmokers nor leading to smoking relapse among long term former smokers. If e-cigarettes continue to be used as a smoking cessation tool and uptake among nonsmokers remains low, they may generate public health benefits.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Delnevo: E-cigarettes are not risk-free. All tobacco users should be encouraged to quit nicotine completely using evidence based approaches. For smokers who are uninterested in quitting or have extreme difficulty in doing so, clinicians should recognize that e-cigarettes may be a tool to displace much more toxic cigarettes. Clinicians should reinforce patient’s interest in quitting combusted cigarettes.  Since e-cigarettes contain nicotine, an extremely addictive stimulant, they are not appropriate for youth to use.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Delnevo: Scientists should continue to evaluate the safety of e-cigarettes and how it compares to cigarette use. At the population level, continued surveillance of use patterns is essential and rigorous longitudinal studies are needed to examine the progression of e-cigarette use and its potential influence on tobacco use trajectories.


Cristine D. Delnevo, Daniel P. Giovenco, Michael B. Steinberg, Andrea C. Villanti, Jennifer L. Pearson, Raymond S. Niaura, David B. Abrams.
Patterns of Electronic Cigarette Use Among Adults in the United States. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 2015; ntv237 DOI:10.1093/ntr/ntv237

Cristine D. Delnevo, PhD, MPH (2015). Former Smokers Biggest User of E-Cigarettes 

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