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How are tobacco smokers using e-cigarettes? Patterns of use, reasons for use and places of purchase in New South Wales

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Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-powered devices that produce a vapour (often containing nicotine) which the user inhales, simulating the act of cigarette smoking. Invented in 2003,1 their popularity in the United States and Europe has soared over the past decade.2,3 The public health community has divergent views on the role of e-cigarettes in tobacco control. Proponents argue that they could greatly reduce tobacco harm as a smoking cessation aid, and should therefore be widely available and accessible.4,5 Others question their safety and efficacy as a cessation aid, highlighting their unknown long term health effects, and are concerned that e-cigarettes could re-normalise smoking and, through dual use, reduce the motivation of smokers to quit smoking.6,7 The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) position statement on e-cigarettes recommends that health authorities should “act to minimise harm until evidence of safety, quality and efficacy can be produced”.8

Although there is increasing international evidence about e-cigarette use, Australian data remain scarce.…