E-cigarettes most popular with young people
The use of e-cigarettes in New South Wales is highest in young people, however they are mostly using them less than weekly.
Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that 16% of respondents age 18-29 were currently using e-cigarettes.
Unlike older e-cigarette users, these respondents weren’t using the products to help them quit smoking. Instead they said it was because e-cigarettes tasted better and they could smoke them in places where cigarettes were banned.
The study found adults over the age of 55 were the most frequent users of e-cigarettes and those over 30 were more likely to use the products to help them quit tobacco.
Related: E-cigs: a help or a harm?
However researchers expressed concerns about this, saying many users in the sample were smoking both conventional and e-cigarettes.
“For avoiding the risks of smoking-related premature death, however, reducing cigarette numbers is much less effective than quitting, and future research should investigate whether tobacco smokers using e-cigarettes to cut down are doing so as part of a cessation strategy or in the hope of reducing smoking-related harm,” the authors wrote.
According to an accompanying editorial in MJA, there is a lack of evidence that e-cigarettes were any more effective than other unassisted cessation or conventional nicotine replacement therapies.
“A Cochrane review reported the evidence as being of ‘low/very low quality’, and a recent metaanalysis concluded that they, in fact, reduced the probability of quitting,” they wrote.
Related: Fuelling the debate on e-cigarettes
Recent statistics released by HealthStats NSW certainly seem to back up that evidence. According to new data, the 45-54 year old age bracket has seen tobacco smoking rates jump more than 2% in the last year.
While smoking rates overall have fallen in the last year from 15.6% to 13.5%, the results haven’t been seen in the older age groups.
Anita Dessaix, manager of Cancer Prevention at the Cancer Institute NSW told Fairfax media that older people would find it harder to quit as most took up smoking as teenagers.
“The message particularly for old people is not to despair and keep trying and that there is hope and support and that they can quit smoking,” Ms Dessaix said.