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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Oct 15;16(20). pii: E3916. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16203916.

Exhaled Carbon Monoxide Levels in Forty Resistant to Cessation Male Smokers after Six Months of Full Switch to Electronic Cigarettes (e-Cigs) or to A Tobacco Heating Systems (THS).

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ENT Department and No Smoke Center, St. John Hospital (Head: Beatrice F.), ASL City of Turin, 10154 Turin, Italy.
Certified Coach-Free Researcher, 10124 Turin, Italy.


Cigarette smoke releases several toxic chemicals and carcinogens including carbon monoxide (CO). This study examined the levels of exhaled CO in smokers switching to electronic cigarettes (e-Cigs) or a tobacco heating system (THS) and their level of compliance six months after switching. On the basis of their own preferences, 40 male smokers unwilling or unable to stop smoking were switched to e-Cigs or THSs for six months (20 subjects in each group). Nicotine addiction and levels of carbon monoxide in the exhaled breath (eCO) were measured at baseline (the latter also at six months). The Shapiro Wilk test, graphical methods, Student T test or Mann-Whitney test were used to assess the normal distribution of variables and differences between the two groups after six months. The two groups showed no difference at baseline, but a significant higher addiction score in smokers choosing THS. E-Cig and THS showed significant reduced levels of eCO (both %COHb and COppm) after six months, which were within the range of non-smoker status. Reduced levels of %COHb did not significantly differ between the two groups, whilst the THS group had a significantly lower reduction in levels of COppm vs the e-Cig group (p < 0.05). Both e-Cigs and THSs are capable of significantly reducing eCO at least in the medium term, hence constituting a viable tobacco harm reduction approach in smokers who are unwilling or unable to stop smoking.


THS; e-Cig; exhaled carbon monoxide; tobacco harm reduction

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