Objective To review the available literature evaluating electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) nicotine clinical pharmacology in order to understand the potential impact of e-cigarettes on individual users, nicotine dependence and public health.
Methods Literature searches were conducted between 1 October 2012 and 30 September 2013 using key terms in five electronic databases. Studies were included in the review if they were in English and publicly available; non-clinical studies, conference abstracts and studies exclusively measuring nicotine content in e-cigarette cartridges were excluded from the review.
Results Nicotine yields from automated smoking machines suggest that e-cigarettes deliver less nicotine per puff than traditional cigarettes, and clinical studies indicate that e-cigarettes deliver only modest nicotine concentrations to the inexperienced e-cigarette user. However, current e-cigarette smokers are able to achieve systemic nicotine and/or cotinine concentrations similar to those produced from traditional cigarettes. Therefore, user experience is critically important for nicotine exposure, and may contribute to the products’ ability to support and maintain nicotine dependence.
Conclusions Knowledge about e-cigarette nicotine pharmacology remains limited. Because a user's e-cigarette experience may significantly impact nicotine delivery, future nicotine pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies should be conducted in experienced users to accurately assess the products’ impact on public health.
- nicotine dependence
- electronic cigarettes
- nicotine pharmacology
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