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Electronic Cigarette To Be Tested On Smokers In Trial

NZPA | Wednesday, 09 January 2008

Smokers are being asked to trial their habit with an electronic cigarette which delivers nicotine but not the harmful effects of tobacco, in an Auckland University study.

Researchers from the Clinical Trials Research Unit at the university are calling for volunteers from the Auckland area for the trial.

The trial is one of two aimed specifically at smokers that the university is undertaking.

Investigator on the trial Dr Hayden McRobbie said he hoped research would show if the e-cigarette might provide nicotine faster than available nicotine replacement treatments.

The e-cigarette is smoked like a normal cigarette, and even glows at the tip when inhaled, but delivers a measured dose of nicotine similar to other products such as patches and gum.

“On the whole nicotine is not the dangerous element in tobacco smoke.

“However, smokers miss the nicotine when they stop and they often experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as cravings.

“By using a product like the e-cigarette nicotine is still delivered and so cravings and withdrawal symptoms are reduced.

“The e-cigarette might be a good way to help people stop smoking as it addresses `the habit’ of smoking whilst still providing nicotine but without the harmful substances in tobacco such as carbon monoxide and tar.”

Dr McRobbie said the trial was for the benefit of smokers.

“We’ve had enough of the finger-wagging.

“At the moment the message is quit or die and we’ve got to give people other ways of stopping smoking and other options.”

While not available in New Zealand, the Hong Kong-made e-cigarette can be bought on the internet for about $200, he said.

The research team is looking for 50 Aucklanders over the age of 18, who smoke mainly factory-made cigarettes, to participate in the study which gets under way at the end of January.

Dr McRobbie also wants smokers who want to quit to take part in a study looking at the changes to their voice as they quit.

“Smoking kills around 4500 New Zealanders every year and causes damage to many parts of the body.

“Most people are aware that smoking causes lung cancer, but less know that smoking can damage the organs such as the vocal cords, causing the vocal cords to become thick and boggy – resulting in a deeper voice.

“By studying smokers’ voices as they quit, we hope to see whether this change is reversible.”

If researchers detect a change in voice quality they may also be able to use technology to monitor the outcome of stop-smoking studies making it easier to test new ways to help smokers quit, he said.

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