Nicotine absorption from electronic cigarette use: comparison between first and new-generation devices

Sci Rep. 2014 Feb 26:4:4133. doi: 10.1038/srep04133.


A wide range of electronic cigarette (EC) devices, from small cigarette-like (first-generation) to new-generation high-capacity batteries with electronic circuits that provide high energy to a refillable atomizer, are available for smokers to substitute smoking. Nicotine delivery to the bloodstream is important in determining the addictiveness of ECs, but also their efficacy as smoking substitutes. In this study, plasma nicotine levels were measured in experienced users using a first- vs. new-generation EC device for 1 hour with an 18 mg/ml nicotine-containing liquid. Plasma nicotine levels were higher by 35-72% when using the new- compared to the first-generation device. Compared to smoking one tobacco cigarette, the EC devices and liquid used in this study delivered one-third to one-fourth the amount of nicotine after 5 minutes of use. New-generation EC devices were more efficient in nicotine delivery, but still delivered nicotine much slower compared to tobacco cigarettes. The use of 18 mg/ml nicotine-concentration liquid probably compromises ECs' effectiveness as smoking substitutes; this study supports the need for higher levels of nicotine-containing liquids (approximately 50 mg/ml) in order to deliver nicotine more effectively and approach the nicotine-delivery profile of tobacco cigarettes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis
  • Electronics*
  • Equipment Design*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Nicotiana
  • Nicotine / metabolism*
  • Personal Satisfaction


  • Nicotine
  • Carbon Monoxide