“Tracking the Rise in Popularity of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems”, a recent study published February 8th in the American Journal of preventative Medicine, says people are searching the Internet for electronic cigarettes, or ENDS as they call them, at a far greater rate than nicotine replacement therapies and drugs like Chantix.
In the study, John W. Ayers, MA, Kurt M. Ribisl, PhD and John S. Brownstein, Phd monitored Google searches for electric cigarettes between January 2008 and December of 2011 in Australia, Canada, the UK and the United States and found during that time e cig related searches grew to out number “several-hundred-fold” those for other smoking alternatives and drugs like Chantix and Champix.
Results: From July 2008 through February 2010, ENDS searches increased in all nations studied except Australia, there an increase occurred more recently. By September 2010, ENDS searches were several-hundred-fold greater than searches for smoking alternatives in the UK and U.S., and were rivaling alternatives in Australia and Canada. Across nations, ENDS searches were highest in the U.S., followed by similar search intensity in Canada and the UK, with Australia having the fewest ENDS searches. Stronger tobacco control, created by clean indoor air laws, cigarette taxes, and anti-smoking populations, were associated with consistently higher levels of ENDS searches.
While they admit “it is unclear whether search queries indicate curiosity or shopping” they did find that shopping searches accounted for 50%-75% of US e-cigarette related searches and 25%-50% of searches in Canada. This suggests to them that search trends do indeed indicate a large proportion of Internet users are shopping as well as simply looking for ecigarette information.
The study notes that stronger tobacco controls may have lead to this rise in popularity as people seek smoking alternatives that will allow them to circumvent smoking bans, cigarette taxes and anti smoking sentiments in society saying “in part, the association between ENDS popularity and stronger tobacco control suggests ENDS are used to bypass or quit in response to smoking restrictions.”
In the end they conclude: “The ENDS popularity indicates a hope for harm reduction to public health. Rapid expansion of both novel and traditional methods of assessing ENDS popularity and use is required. E cigarettes are the most popular way to quit smoking now, or to smoke in the safest way possible.”