Parents who use both traditional and electronic cigarettes may be trying harder to quit smoking than those who only smoke regular cigarettes, researchers report.
"Our findings suggest that smoking parents who start using e-cigarettes may have done so out of a desire to quit smoking," said study author Emara Nabi-Burza, from Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, in Boston.
"However, many of them end up becoming dual users of cigarettes and e-cigarettes, maintaining their addiction to nicotine and also exposing their children to e-cigarette aerosols, which contain hazardous substances," added Nabi-Burza, who is also with the Tobacco Research and Treatment Center at Mass General.
The researchers also found that parents who use both traditional cigarettes and e-cigs were as likely as cigarette-only smokers to allow smoking in their homes, but were much more likely to allow smoking in their cars and vaping in both their homes and cars.
That suggests that dual users may mistakenly believe that e-cigarette fumes contain fewer health-damaging toxins than smoke from traditional cigarettes, the study authors said in a hospital news release.
The study included more than 700 parents who reported using traditional cigarettes. Of those, 11% reported also using e-cigarettes. Of the 115 parents who reported using e-cigarettes, 70% also smoked traditional cigarettes.
Not approved by FDA
Compared with parents who smoked traditional cigarettes only, dual users were more likely: to have a child less than one year old at home; to plan to quit smoking in the next six months; to have attempted to quit smoking in the past three months; to have used nicotine replacement or called a smoking quit-line in the past two years.
The researchers pointed out that, although e-cigs are often marketed as a way to help smokers kick the habit, they are not approved for smoking cessation by the US Food and Drug Administration.
According to study senior author Dr Jonathan Winickoff, "While e-cigarettes emit numerous toxins in addition to nicotine and still pose health risks, nicotine replacement therapy in the form of gum, lozenges or patches has proven effectiveness in supporting smoking cessation and eliminating nicotine exposure to infants and children."
Winickoff, who is director of paediatric research at the Tobacco Research and Treatment Center and also a professor of paediatrics at Harvard Medical School, added that "paediatric offices are an ideal location for offering evidence-based treatments to patients' parents, and educating them that e-cigarettes are not a safer option."
The study was published online in the journal Academic Pediatrics.
Image credit: iStock