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Med J Aust. 2016 May 16;204(9):355.

How are tobacco smokers using e-cigarettes? Patterns of use, reasons for use and places of purchase in New South Wales.

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Cancer Institute NSW, Sydney, NSW
Department of Premier and Cabinet, NSW Government, Sydney, NSW.
Cancer Institute NSW, Sydney, NSW.



To explore how and why tobacco smokers and recent quitters in NSW use e-cigarettes, as well as common places of purchase.


The Cancer Institute Tobacco Tracking Survey is a serial cross-sectional telephone survey, with 40 interviews in NSW each week.


2966 tobacco smokers and recent quitters (in the past 12 months) interviewed January 2014 - June 2015.


Current e-cigarette use; reasons for using; places of purchase.


9% of the sample reported currently using e-cigarettes; the rate was highest among 18-29-year-old people (16%). Infrequent use (less than weekly; 57%) was more common than frequent use (at least weekly; 43%). Frequent use was more likely among older adults (55 years and older v 18-29 years: adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 4.43; P = 0.002) and less likely among current tobacco smokers (v recent quitters: aOR, 0.38, P = 0.020). The most common reasons for using e-cigarettes by those over 30 years of age was "to help me quit" (42%) and to "cut down" smoking (35%); for younger adults it was "because they are not as bad for your health as cigarettes" (25%). Common places of purchase were the internet (29%) and tobacconists (27%).


Although use of e-cigarettes by tobacco smokers in NSW remains low, some are using e-cigarettes in attempts to reduce tobacco-related harm. Physicians and public health campaigners should inform smokers about the risks associated with dual e-cigarette and tobacco use, advise interested quitters that e-cigarettes are currently unregulated as cessation aids, and continue to provide evidence-based recommendations and cessation services to smokers wanting to quit.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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