Background The introduction of electronic cigarettes on the market as a cheaper and allegedly healthier alternative to cigarettes, has led many people to use them. The aim of this study is to give us a better understanding of the increase in useage of electronic cigarettes as an aid to quitting smoking for people accessing stop smoking services in secondary care in Croydon.
Method Questionnaires were given to participants who were willing to take part. 50 participants were recruited during their hospital visit through the Croydon Respiratory Team (CRT) and the hospital based stop smoking service. Patient demographics were recorded and participants reported their behavioural changes, impact on health, reason for use, and intention of when to stop using e-cigarettes.
Results Participants were both male and female with the age range of 23–82 years. 17 participants (35%) reported a diagnosis of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). 34 participants were single users (only used e-cigarettes) and 16 were dual users (use e-cigarettes and other NRT products). Results revealed that e-cigarettes are popular, well tolerated and various brands used. The most popular brand was Vapour Zone cigarettes with 14 users followed by V2 Cig with 8 users. The findings also showed that some patients are using 2 types of e-cigarettes: 2 participants in this study were using more than one brand at the same time. Duration of using e-cigarettes was from one week to over 18 months with 50% of patients having used e cigarettes for at least 3 months. 26 patients (52%) reported improvement in breathing and 9 patients (18%) reported a reduction in sputum. 21 patients (42%) had reduced their cigarette use and 19 (38%) had quit smoking. Out of these 25 patients who were using e-cigarettes for at least 3 months; 12 had quit smoking. 22 participants reported hearing about e-cigarettes through the media, 14 through friends, 3 from health professionals, 3 from relatives and 3 through media and friends. It was interesting to note that despite all participants wanting to stop smoking, 33 participants were not sure when they intended to stop using e-cigarettes.
Conclusions The use of e-cigarettes is common in patients accessing secondary care in Croydon. Many patients either quit or reduced smoking and many reported improvement in symptoms. Duration of use of e-cigarettes is variable but half of patients surveyed had used them for at least 3 months. Whilst this study provides some local data, further research is required to help shape future respiratory and smoking cessation services and policies.
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