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Emerging nicotine delivery products. Implications for public health.

Abstract

The idea of clean nicotine delivery systems that would satisfy nicotine craving and promote smoking cessation has been considered as a possible public health tool for many years. Nicotine medications have been useful for smoking cessation but have not found widespread popularity among smokers, perhaps because of slow nicotine delivery and other sensory characteristics that differ from cigarettes. Traditional smokeless tobacco delivers as much nicotine as cigarettes and has been advocated for harm reduction but contains carcinogenic nitrosamines and has not been proven to promote cessation. Furthermore, there is concern that dual use of smokeless tobacco and cigarettes may inhibit quitting smoking. Newer oral dissolvable tobacco products contain lower levels of toxicants than other smokeless tobacco but also deliver much less nicotine and have not been popular with consumers. Electronic cigarettes that aerosolize nicotine without generating toxic tobacco combustion products have become quite popular and hold promise as a way to attract smokers away from cigarettes, although efficacy in promoting smoking cessation has not yet been demonstrated. There are concerns about safety of long-term use, and there is evidence that youth, including nonsmokers, are taking up e-cigarette use. E-cigarettes are marketed for use when one cannot smoke conventional cigarettes, and such use might result in more persistent cigarette smoking. Although their benefits and risks are being vigorously debated, e-cigarettes or other clean nicotine delivery devices could play an important role as an adjunct to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulatory intervention to make cigarettes less addictive and in this context could contribute to the end of cigarette smoking and smoking-induced disease.

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