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E-Cigarettes & Nicotine Cravings

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E-Cigarettes & Nicotine Cravings

The Effect of the Electronic Cigarette on Nicotine Cravings and Withdrawal Symptoms

One frequent criticism of the electronic cigarette is that there has been no proof that it can work as a smoking cessation aid. Most suppliers do not market the electronic cigarette as a cessation aid, due to legal reasons, but there has been research into the extent to which the electronic cigarette can satisfy cravings. This page aims to summarise research conducted by Bullen et al. (2010).

Research Aims

The Electronic Cigarette research in New Zealand, again sponsored by Ruyan and Health New Zealand, aimed to test on the ability of the electronic cigarette to relieve nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

The Research

To test the effectiveness of the electronic cigarette, the researchers compared the device to:

  • cigarettes
  • a placebo (an electronic cigarette with zero nicotine cartridges)
  • Electronic cigarette (16mg)
  • Nicorette® nicotine inhalator

40 cigarette smokers used the devices after a night’s abstinence. Their craving relief was rated and the nicotine levels of nine of the participants was also rated.


  • Participants using the a 16mg electronic cigarette experienced significantly less cravings than those using the placebo electronic cigarette.
  •  The 16mg electronic cigarette rated slightly above the Nicorette inhaler for reducing irritability, restlessness, poor concentration and the need for a cigarette.
  • Both electronic cigarettes had fewer adverse effects than the inhaler.
  • The 16mg electronic cigarette delivered nicotine quicker than the inhaler, but not as quickly as cigarettes.
  • The 16mg electronic cigarette delivered the smallest amount of nicotine (almost one tenth that of cigarettes) compared with the Nicorette inhalator and the traditional cigarette.


The researchers concluded that the device showed promise as a nicotine cessation aid, but that further research was needed.


This summary has been based on a pdf of the official report: E-Cig Effect.

Further discussion can be found with one of the authors of the report in the interview section of our website: E-Cigarette Interview with Dr Murray Laugeson.


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