A new study found that electronic cigarettes are more popular among people with mental health conditions disorders than other smokers.
A nationally representative survey showed that people with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety disorders and so on, are more likely to be using e-cigarettes, to have tried them, and to be susceptible to use them in the future.
Dr. Sharon Cummins, assistant professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California San Diego, said the study also looked at why those people are using e-cigarettes.
“We were looking at why are they using those products and found that they were using them very much the same reason that other people are using them. It was primarily smokers and recent quitters and they were using them to quit smoking or to minimize the harm from cigarettes,” Cummins said.
She explained that people with mental health conditions are more likely to use e-cigarettes because they are more likely to be smokers in the first place. Many theories try to explain why people with mental health conditions are among the largest group of cigarette consumers and one of the main reasons would be that nicotine affects neurotransmitters and helps manage symptoms of those conditions.
People with mental health conditions not only are more likely to start smoking but also have a harder time quitting. It turns out that the study showed that it is the people who are struggling with trying to quit smoking or who recently struggled with quitting who are the most attracted to e-cigarettes.
“In general people with mental health conditions had already tried many different ways to quit smoking. They had used most of the FDA approved quitting aids and I think they were looking for something new,” Cummins added.
She also noted that people without mental health conditions are less likely to try e-cigarettes because they have tried fewer products to help them stop smoking.
The researchers pointed out that e-cigarettes have not been proven to help people quit smoking tobacco cigarettes. However Cummins added that people are better off using e-cigarettes than smoking because “smoking is to incredibly dangerous.”
E-cigarettes are controversial because they are not regulated, their contents vary and and there are no limitations as to what they contain. E-cigarettes are not subject to the same restrictions as regular cigarettes. For instance, they can be advertised.
“One worry is that it is going to reverse the social norm against smoking and make smoking more desirable again,” Cummins added.