Introduction: Electronic cigarettes (EC) have the potential to generate a substantial public health benefit if there is a switch from smoking to EC use on a population scale. The nicotine delivery from EC is likely to play a major role in their attractiveness to smokers. We assessed nicotine delivery from a first-generation EC and the effect of experience with its use on nicotine intake.
Methods: Six smokers provided pharmacokinetic (PK) data after their first use of EC and again following 4 weeks of use.
Results: The peak nicotine levels were achieved within 5 min of starting the EC use, which suggests that EC may provide nicotine via pulmonary absorption. There were large individual differences in nicotine intake. Compared with the PK profile when using EC for the first time, 4 weeks of practice generated a 24% increase in the peak plasma concentrations (from 4.6 to 5.7 ng/ml; nonsignificant) and a 79% increase in overall nicotine intake (AUC(0 → inf) increased from 115 to 206 ng*min/ml; p < .05).
Conclusions: First-generation EC provide faster nicotine absorption than nicotine replacement products, but to compete successfully with conventional cigarettes, EC may need to provide higher doses of nicotine. Nicotine intake from EC can increase with practice, but further studies are needed to confirm this effect.
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