A study published in Addiction found that self-reported perceived addiction to e-cigarettes associated with markers for addiction to e-cigarettes.
This study was part of the EValuation of the Addictive Potential of E-cigarettes (EVAPE) project, in which data were collected in England in 2016 for the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Smoking and Vaping (4CV) Survey. The relationship between perceived addiction to e-cigarettes according to 2 dichotomized questions were related with markers for addiction and vaping/smoking habits.
The study population comprised 832 current e-cigarette users who were 63.8% men. A total of 28.1% were aged 18 to 24 years, 37.1% had a high level of education, 69.9% were regular tobacco cigarette smokers, and 64.2% were daily e-cigarette users.
When asked whether they were addicted to e-cigarettes, 41.9% said they were somewhat addicted and 16.7% very addicted. When asked how addictive e-cigarettes were, 15.3% said much less addictive, 39.9% said somewhat less addictive, and 34.5% said as equally addictive as tobacco cigarettes.
Perceived addiction to e-cigarettes was associated with extreme enjoyment of vaping compared with moderate enjoyment (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 8.8; P <.001), a strong urge to vape compared with a moderate urge (aOR, 6.5; P <.001), first vape of the day within 5 minutes (aOR, 4.0; P =.001) or 6 to 30 minutes (aOR, 2.7; P =.002) compared with more than 1 hour, use of very high nicotine strength compared with low or none (aOR, 3.7; P =.008), the response to the question about relative addictiveness (aOR, 3.4; P <.001), and daily use compared with weekly use (aOR, 3.1; P =0.00).
Perceived addictiveness was associated with response to the perceived addiction question (aOR, 3.4; P <.001), the first vape of the day within 5 minutes compared with more than 1 hour (aOR, 2.4; P =.021), and thinking vaping was much less (aOR, 0.3; P =.004) or somewhat less (aOR, 0.5; P =.004) satisfying than tobacco smoking.
Out of the markers of addiction and vaping/smoking characteristics, 35 of the 45 pairwise comparisons were significantly correlated. The most highly correlated relationships were observed for relative satisfaction and enjoyment (r, 0.5; P ≤.005) and urge to vape with frequency of e-cigarette use (r, 0.4; P ≤.005) and time to first vape (r, -0.4; P ≤.005).
The findings of this study may have been limited by allowing current or former tobacco cigarette users to participate, as perceived addiction to e-cigarettes may have been confounded by addiction to tobacco cigarettes.
Study authors concluded, “We showed that markers of addiction corresponded with perceived addiction of e-cigarette users, implying that self-reported measures of perceived addiction might be an indicator of addiction. Prevalence both of perceived addiction and markers of addiction were comparatively low overall, supporting the research indicating that an addictive potential of e-cigarettes is present, and the high endorsement of their lower relative addictiveness is consistent with research suggesting that this addictive potential is lower than that of tobacco cigarettes.”
Lohner V, McNeill A, Schneider S, et al. Understanding perceived addiction to and addictiveness of electronic cigarettes among electronic cigarette users – a cross-sectional analysis of the International Tobacco Control Smoking and Vaping (ITC 4CV) England Survey. Addiction. Published online February 11, 2023. doi:10.1111/add.16162