Smokers obtain nicotine from a number of sources, according to a new study. These sources include e-cigarettes, which vaporize nicotine, in place of burning tobacco.
Roswell Park Cancer Institute researchers led the study, which could be utilized to help track trends in tobacco use among smokers.
Around 28 percent of adults and nine percent of youth consume tobacco in one form or another, according to recent research. About 40 percent of tobacco users consume the drug through more than one source, with the most common combination being e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes.
Over the last few years, e-cigarettes have been becoming more popular among users who believe the devices provide a healthier alternative to burning tobacco. Vaping - as the process is known - is allowed in some areas, such as restaurants, that do not allow traditional cigarettes. Some teens who never smoked traditional forms of tobacco are starting to smoke e-cigarettes, a government study, released in December 2014, revealed.
"Are e-cigarettes a step toward a cigarette smoker getting off of cigarettes? Or are e-cigarettes a crutch so they can get nicotine in places and times when they wouldn't normally be allowed to smoke cigarettes?" Andrew Hyland from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute said.
The electronic devices do provide fewer toxic chemicals to the body than burning tobacco. However, long-term studies still need to be carried out in order to determine the full health effects of the devices on the human body.
The Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (Path) Study examined tobacco use among 46,000 people, including consumption of cigars, and tobacco smoked in hookahs.
"We were struck by the proportion of users that engaged in polyuse," Mitch Zeller, leader of the tobacco division of the Food and Drug Administration, said.
Several states have banned the sale of e-cigarettes to people younger than 18 years old, in an effort to stem the tide of teenage nicotine use.
There is no standard dosage of nicotine in e-cigarettes, which can deliver small amounts of the drug, to as much as a traditional cigarette. This makes testing the devices challenging for researchers, as there is no standard by which to test the devices.
The new study, released on February 26, does not show why people consume nicotine from multiple sources. Some users may be attempting to quit tobacco, using e-cigarettes as a way of reducing their dependence on nicotine. It is also possible that the increasing popularity of the electronic devices is encouraging people to use the products.
The tobacco industry is quickly adapting to the new demographics, gearing their businesses toward the new delivery method. Nicotine seems to be here to stay, in whatever form people choose to consume it.
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