Background Passive exposure to combustible cigarette use has been shown to act as a cue to increase smoking urge. Given the resemblance of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) to combustible cigarettes, we examined whether these devices could also act as a cue to increase smoking desire and urges in those passively exposed.
Methods Young adult daily smokers (age 18–35 years; N=60) completed subjective ratings before and after exposure to a study confederate drinking bottled water (control cue) and then smoking either a combustible or e-cigarette (active cue). Smoking desire and urge ratings were measured with visual analogue scale items for desire for a regular and an e-cigarette and the Brief Questionnaire of Smoking Urges.
Results Passive exposure to both the e-cigarette and combustible cigarette cue significantly increased observers’ ratings of desire and urge to smoke a regular cigarette (all ps<0.05). Exposure to the e-cigarette cue but not the regular cigarette cue also increased desire to smoke an e-cigarette (p<0.01).
Conclusions The results provide the first evidence in a controlled setting that electronic cigarette exposure may evoke smoking urges in young adult daily smokers. With replication, these findings may have relevance for ENDS regulation and policy.
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