Vaping study: E-cigs reduce smokers’ cravings, even zero-nicotine e-liquids

A new vaping study released by a team of Bavarian scientists claims that even zero-nicotine e-liquids can significant curb those nasty cigarette cravings that prevent people from quitting smoking.  According to the team of researchers, smoking addiction is a type of learned behavior that involves several different conditional stimuli (CSs).   And vaping may be the key to quitting permanently.

The results of their research show that vaping acts as a kind of substitutive action that fulfills the same levels of satisfaction of these numerous stimuli with 95 percent less of the negative health consequences.  To put this another way, when smokers interact with certain stimuli, their brains induce the automatic reflex action to smoke a cigarette as a way to curb the associated stimuli-induced anxieties.   

Craving reduction: Cigarettes vs. vaping

The study is entitled The Importance of Conditioned Stimuli in Cigarette and E-Cigarette Craving Reduction by E-Cigarettes and is readily available online.  Throughout the course of their research, the scientists focused their attention on the examination of several different variables pertaining to the act of smoking, including the following.

      • Hand-to-mouth cues
      • Visual cues
      • Aromatic cues
      • Social cues
      • Emotional cues and changes in mood
      • The CSs of inhaling, exhaling, and throat hit
      • The preferred times of day and locations that smokers tend to engage in their activities, such as when driving a car, talking on the phone, and after a meal.

The Bavarian scientists conducted a series of tests involving 81 smokers “without prior vaping experience.” The subjects were allowed a one-week experimentation period with the vaping technology prior to the commencement of the study.  The researchers also manipulated several of the CSs over the course of the study, including but not limited to the following.

      • Nicotine levels: Zero-nicotine vs. 2.4 percent vs. 3.6 percent nicotine concentrations
      • Hand-to-mouth cues: Allowing the participate to hold the cigarette or device vs. interaction via a unipod mechanism.
      • Visual cues: Blindfolds vs. no blindfolds
      • Aromatic cues: Traditional tobacco flavors vs. “Bad Apple” flavors

The findings confirm that vaping is extremely useful in satisfying the cravings to smoke, but the scientists also uncovered something perhaps even more significant.  While the different levels of nicotine concentrations in the e-liquid provide slightly different results, zero-nicotine e-liquids were documented to still satisfy the smoker’s cravings for cigarettes to a substantial degree.

      • A decrease in cigarette cravings occurs whether nicotine was present in the e-liquid or not.
      • However, the decreases were greater as the levels of nicotine concentrations rose.
      • A decrease in cravings was also greater when the participant was allowed to interact with the vaping device through normal hand-to-mouth engagement, regardless of the nicotine concentrations present in the e-liquid.
      • E-cigs provided the same levels of craving reduction with or without the presence of a blindfold.
      • The aroma of the cigarette or e-liquid vapor seemed to have no effect on craving reduction.

The Bavarian vaping study seems to confirm what millions of vapers have known all along.  The biggest problem with quitting smoking “cold turkey” is overcoming that silly oral fixation that goes along with it.   What we may or may not have already known is that the presences of nicotine in our e-liquids has very little to do with our addiction.  Addiction to nicotine is not the problem.   


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