Are electronic cigarettes more or less addictive than smoking?

One thing we have noticed is that we don’t seem to need electronic cigarettes in the same way we used to need cigarettes.

I have also seen discussions on forums speculating that it is not just nicotine that causes the addiction in cigarettes. I’m not a scientist, but it did lead me to wonder whether electronic cigarettes were less addictive than tobacco cigarettes.

To find out what other vapers thought, we held a poll on our facebook page. It turned out that we weren’t the only ones who thought they were less addictive:

Facebook question.

Some vapers, however, put the reduced cravings of e-cigarettes to the way they were used, i.e. regular but less intensive puffs rather than full cigarettes followed by a long break between smoking. Kristin Noll Marsh wrote:

E-cigarettes FEEL less “addictive,” because I don’t have to wait a few hours to use it and then smoke like a fiend. When I smoked, I had to resist the urge until I could go outside and smoke. That caused a pent-up sensation and sense of urgency I don’t have with an e-cigarette, because I can just pick it up and take a puff at any time. So, instead of the peaks and valleys of smoking, vaping just keeps things on a even keel.

Jackie Cheetham was unsure:

I feel they are just as addictive but i can’t be certain as i only smoked outside in the garden before and now i use my e.cig in the house so always have it on me.

Others, such as Untamed Rose, believed they just needed e-cigs less than they needed cigarettes:

Going with less…the reason is I dont get the panicky OMG feeling if I cant vape for a while like I did with cigs. I want to, would like to, but I’m not climbing walls and flipping b/c I cant vape.

Ray Hille agreed, saying:

Definitely not as addictive as tobacco cigarettes, I simply have a few puffs and put it down plus I dont have the same craving anymore and I am not as anxious about the next one. i think it is because you know it is there and you dont have to go through the ritual of lighting up getting an ashtray and finishing the whole cigarette.

Not everyone agreed, though, with Chris Birk arguing that e-cigs were:

Just as addictive, but far more enjoyable.

Here are the full results, with the blue representing people who think e-cigs are less addictive than regular cigarettes (one or two similar user-added options have been merged):

Graph showing how addictive people think e-cigarettes are. (Please note I am not claiming a facebook poll is scientific! It would be interesting, though, to see a study comparing withdrawal effects from tobacco cigarettes with withdrawal effects from electronic cigarettes.)

What do you think – are e-cigarettes more or less addictive? (Click here if you would like to vote on our Facebook page!)

p.s. Anyone can use the image above as long as they attribute it to us with a link!

13 thoughts on “Are electronic cigarettes more or less addictive than smoking?”

  1. I don’t think pv’s {hate the name ecigs!} are as addictive because you don’t have all the chemicals working together to insure that they will be very addictive as the cigarette company’s did when putting together a cigarette formula.
    I did not have the kind of withdrawals that I had even while wearing a patch when I don’t vape or use 0mg of nicotine.
    I don’t think nicotine is as addictive as the ANTZ would have you believe personally and this is due to my own experiences as I mentioned in the above sentence.

  2. I think some of the addiction to smoking is also due to the habit forming nature of it – this is not purely opinion as there’s some research which suggests that the role of nicotine in smoking has been exagerated. However, it’s not in the interests of pharmaceutical companies or the charities they bankroll to de-emphasise the role of nicotine.

  3. I believe they are just as addictive and one slight problem is because you dont have to go and light one you carry it around and tend to probably use more often than a real cigarette, so my advice is to use a case and put the ecig away as you put out a real cig

  4. It would be interesting to do a comparison on how much nicotine is consumed. I think you tend to use e-cigs more often, but less at one time i.e. a lot of people will take a drag or two and put it down instead of consuming a whole cigarette’s worth in one go.

  5. Good study. Quite honestly, if I’m sitting, reading a book, for whatever reason it is, I can’t leave the ecig alone! But if I’m busy, I’m not bothered as long as I know I’ve got it with me:) I far more enjoy vaping than I used to do, smoking. I loathe tobacco and would never have gone back to it. Yuk!

  6. Richard Wilkinson

    I used to smoke roll-up’s but with the extra length papers (which used to get me some funny looks as people just assume you are smoking whacky baccky lol) and with those i could light up have a few puffs and put it down then go back to it later, with the smaller normal size papers i was smoking more as it just wasn’t worth lighting up for a few puffs then going back to it later and i am finding the same with vaping, i take just a couple of puffs and thats me sorted and don’t feel the need to keep on going as i would if it was a normal size roll-up so i guess i am vaping a little less than what i was when i was smoking. But to be honest even if scientific studies where to say it is as addictive to me i couldn’t care less as my health has improved immensely since vaping only, i can actual fill my lungs and also not coughing, wheezing and all the other associated ill affects from years of thousands of toxins going into my body etc, so i have noticed a hell of a difference in my health. Sorry for rambling on, hope it all makes sense 😛

  7. Your story reminds me of the cigarettes people used to smoke when I worked in Indonesia 🙂 People there didn’t have much money, and they used to buy these big fat cigarettes – I swear those things could last a day! Nobody ever smoked them in one go, they used to take a few puffs, put them out, light them up again e.t.c.

    Good to hear you are feeling better since you switched to vaping!

  8. That is a rather interesting question. From a receptor binding at nicotinic receptor standpoint there should be no difference. Subjectively, I see myself vaping in a much different pattern than I smoked. I seem to use my vaporizing apparatus more like a pipe, inhaling less and going long periods without vaping (8-10 hours) with minimal craving. What I enjoy is the relaxation and the flavors. So from a subjective standpoint I would say they are less addictive, but I enjoy them too much to stop today. I would probably not smoke if I forgot my juice or something- but I think that it would eventually be noticeable that I am without nic. Withdrawal has not been ever really noticed since vaping. I suspect my basal nic levels are lower than when smoking.

  9. “I seem to use my vaporizing apparatus more like a pipe, inhaling less and going long periods without vaping (8-10 hours) with minimal craving.”

    That is interesting – I really think there is a call for some research into the comparative addictiveness of smoking and vaping!

  10. Went over to vaping two years ago after smoking for 60+ years. My gut feeling is it’s slightly less addictive for me,not the same panic as when I was out of cigs and the shops shut! A great part of the pleasure of smoking is sensory and this is all mirrored in vaping; I inhale, exhale, blow “smoke” rings and hold the thing in much the same way plus I now enjoy great flavours, and all without the known and proven health hazards of smoking tobacco with all carcinogens added. No-brainer really

  11. Pingback: Nicotine in Electronic Cigarettes: 10 Facts All Users Should Know

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