Wednesday, January 09, 2008


An electronic cigarette which could give smokers their nicotine hit without all those harmful ingredients which presently exist in cigarette smoke might actually help them to beat their addiction, New Zealand scientists claim.

Auckland University researchers are recruiting 48 smokers who want to quit, to take part in the world’s first trial of the “e-cigarette“. Hayden McRobbie, from the university’s clinical trials research unit, said the e-cigarette which is presently sold by a Chinese company over the internet for $200 each, is marketed as an alternative to smoking rather than a tool to stop smoking.

Doctor McRobbie said they think it might actually prove more effective than current nicotine replacement treatments, such as patches and gum, because smoking is not just a chemical addiction, it is also behavioural.

The device is “smoked” like a conventional cigarette, and even glows at the tip when the smoker draws on it. A vaporiser device delivers a measured dose of nicotine in a mist.

Ex-smokers have often said they miss the ritual of smoking: the e-cigarette gives them something to do with their hands - as an ex-smoker myself, it was something I missed as I successfully withdrew from my smoking habit through the aid of patches, back in 1991.

Alternatives need to be looked at to help smoking addicts. While nicotine is the active ingredient in cigarettes - it is the tars, carbon monoxide and the other chemicals that make up the over 200 poisons that exist in cigarettes. These cause the heart and lung diseases that kill 4500 New Zealanders a year - out of a population of 4.25 million.

Researchers hope the New Zealand study will be completed by March of 2008. This will benefit those involved in anti - smoking programs worldwide.

The “quit or die” message was not working for many smokers, especially younger ones, who knew the dangers but were powerless against their craving. The craving was as psychological as it was physical.

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