London: E-cigarette users are significantly more likely to drink problematically than non-users, warns a new study.
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, were developed to mimic real cigarettes, giving users the same look, feel and experience as smoking a cigarette. They are widely promoted as a 'healthy' alternative to smoking and as support devices for smoking cessation.
But the results of the new study suggest that using e-cigarettes to quit smoking could mean people miss out on the benefits of quitting -- smoking cessation generally results in people drinking less alcohol, but using e-cigarettes means this decrease may not happen.
"If you quit smoking cold turkey, it affects other behaviours associated with smoking, such as drinking," said lead author of the study Alexandra Hershberger from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in the US.
"By replacing smoking with e-cigarette use, it could be that you are at risk of continuing behaviours you do not want to continue. This is particularly serious for people with alcohol addiction -- using e-cigarettes could make it harder to stop drinking," Hershberger explained.
The study based on a survey of around 1400 people, also found that more women than men use e-cigarettes socially -- just opposite to the patterns seen in regular cigarette smoking.
In general, men report more risk-taking behaviours than women, including smoking, drinking and drug use. The findings suggest that women may not perceive e-cigarette use as risky.
The study was published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.