Background Understanding vaping patterns of electronic cigarette (EC) use is important to understand the real-life exposure to EC vapor. Long term information on vaping topography in relation to tobacco cigarette (TC) smoking cessation success has not been explored. Methods Observational non-blinded study where active TC smokers were asked to replace TC with EC over 4 weeks (replacement phase, RP) followed by exclusive EC use for an additional 12 weeks (maintenance phase, MP). TC use and EC compliance was monitored weekly. Subjects were classified as success or failure whether or not they completed the protocol. Vaping information was stored and downloaded directly from the EC device and averaged per calendar day for analysis. Results From 25 subjects that followed the protocol, sixteen succeeded in completing the RP and 8 the MP (32%). No significant differences in baseline characteristics were noted between subjects in the success and failure groups including markers of nicotine addiction, plasma cotinine levels or smoking history. Success subjects showed significantly longer puff duration (seconds per vape) and total overall vapor exposure (number of vapes x average vape duration or vape-seconds) in both study phases. Furthermore, subjects in the success group continued to increase the number of vapes, device voltage and wattage significantly as they transitioned into the MP. After an initial drop, subjects in the success group were able to regain plasma cotinine levels comparable to their TC use while subjects in the failure group could not. Cotinine levels significantly correlated with the average number of daily vapes and vapes-seconds, but not with other vaping parameters. Conclusion The topography of smokers who adhere to exclusive EC use reflects a progressive and dynamic device adaptation over weeks to maintain baseline cotinine levels. The higher inhaled volume over time should be considered when addressing the potential toxic effects of EC and the variable EC adherence when addressing public health policies regarding their use.
ASJC Scopus subject areas