Can High Nicotine Vapes Help Smokers Quit?

Smoking remains a leading cause of preventable diseases and death worldwide. Despite numerous efforts to encourage smoking cessation, a significant number of smokers struggle to quit. Recent research has highlighted the potential role of high nicotine vapes in aiding smoking cessation.  

Key Findings 

Increase in High-Strength E-Liquid Use 

The study found that the proportion of vapers in England using high-strength (≥20 mg/ml) e-liquids surged from an average of 3.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.9–5.0) up to June 2021 to a staggering 32.5% (CI = 27.9–37.4) by January 2024. Notably, 93.3% of these users in January 2024 reported using exactly 20 mg/ml, which is the legal limit. 

Demographics and Device Preferences 

Device Types: 
  • Disposable E-Cigarettes: 47.9% of users prefer high-strength nicotine e-liquids. 
  • Pod Devices: 16.3% of users opt for high-strength nicotine e-liquids. 
  • Refillable Devices: 11.5% of users use high-strength nicotine e-liquids. 
Age Groups: 
  • Younger Vapers (16–24 years): 44.2% use high-strength nicotine e-liquids. 
  • Older Vapers (≥25 years): Usage ranges from 9.4% to 25.1%. 
Smoking Status: 
    • Never Smokers: 36.0% use high-strength nicotine e-liquids. 
    • Current Smokers: 28.8% use high-strength nicotine e-liquids. 
    • Recent Ex-Smokers (<1 year): 27.4% use high-strength nicotine e-liquids. 
    • Long-Term Ex-Smokers (≥1 year): 13.9% use high-strength nicotine e-liquids. 

    General Vaping Trends in Great Britain (2022–2024) 

    Nicotine Use: 

    • 89.5% of vapers reported using nicotine-containing e-cigarettes. 
    • 8.7% used nicotine-free e-cigarettes. 
    • 1.8% were unsure about their e-liquid’s nicotine content. 

    Dr. Sarah Jackson, a behavioral scientist at University College London (UCL) and the lead author of the study, told Filter that the increase “coincided with the introduction of new disposable vapes, many of which contain e-liquids with nicotine strengths at the upper end of the legal limit.” 

    Vaping among certain groups has been the focus of media alarm. However, Jackson highlights important harm reduction benefits associated with higher nicotine levels 

    "Research indicates that e-cigarettes with higher nicotine strengths may be more effective in helping people quit smoking compared to those with lower nicotine levels." 

    Dr. Sarah Jackson, Behavioral Scientist, University College London 

    Final Thoughts 

    The increased use of high-strength nicotine e-liquids among vapers in England highlights a significant shift in vaping habits.  

    High nicotine vapes offer promising potential for smoking cessation among adults in the UK. Their National Health Service has rejected the “Quit or Die” policies that dominate in the U.S. and host the resource page Vaping to Quit Smoking 

    Tailored interventions and informed policies can help maximize the benefits while managing potential risks, ultimately supporting the diverse needs of adult nicotine users.  


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