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Passive exposure to electronic cigarette use increases desire for e-cigarettes in young adult smokers

Tob Control 2015;24:501-504 doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2014-051563

  1. Andrea C King1,
  2. Lia J Smith1,
  3. Patrick J McNamara1,
  4. Alicia K Matthews2,
  5. Daniel J Fridberg1
    1. Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
    2. University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  6. Correspondence to Dr Andrea King, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue (MC-3077), Chicago, IL 60637, USA; aking{at}

* Received 14 January 2014
* Accepted 30 April 2014
* Published Online First 21 May 2014


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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