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French National Survey Results Suggest E-Cigarettes Are Affecting Tobacco Cigarette Consumption

The findings of a recent national survey conducted by France’s Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) show between 7.7 million and 9.2 million French have tried electronic cigarettes, and 1 to 2 million are using them on a daily basis. Corroborated with the fact that tobacco cigarette sales have dropped by 7.6% in 2013 – an unprecedented decline since the sharp price increases of 2003 and 2004 – the data has led experts to believe  e-cigarettes have reduced smoking in France.

electronic-cigaretteFrench Tobacconists sold 47.2 billion cigarettes in 2013, 4 billion less than in the previous year. Rolling tobacco sales have continued to increase, but at a noticeably slower rate. Meanwhile, electronic cigarettes have been growing in popularity during the last few years, but the market has truly boomed in 2013, reaching an estimated worldwide sales value of $2.5 million, which some analysts expect do more than double in 2014. Although the constant price increase of tobacco cigarettes over the last four years is considered the main cause of this historic drop in sales, the rise of the electronic cigarette simply cannot be denied as a secondary factor.

The OFDT survey conducted in November of last year on a representative sample of the French population (2052 people aged 15 to 75) shows between one and two million people use electronic cigarettes every single day. Of these, only a small fraction use them exclusively, with the vast majority admitting to using both tobacco cigs and e-cigarettes. Nearly two thirds of respondents said they tend to use the electrical version more often than the analog. OFDT analysts concluded that this frequent use of vaporizers has reduced the average number of cigarettes consumed by each smoker. In fact the OFDT’s 2013 report on smoking seems to confirm a rather sharp decline.In 2010, the smoking prevalence barometer of the National Institute for Prevention and Health Education stood at 33.7% for people aged 15 to 75. In 2012 it decreased to under 30%, and last year the percentage of smokers in France was around 27%.

The new research shows the French are more eager to try e-cigarettes than to adopt them, with 18% of respondents reporting they have tried e-cigs at least once. That’s a 2.5% increase from March 2012, when the experimentation rate reached 7%.

51% of questioned vapers said they use e-cigarettes to quit smoking, while 11.5% claimed they used them to cut back on tobacco analogs or switch completely. Unfortunately, only 1.3% of respondents said they use e-cigarettes completely, but the novelty of the product is believed to be the main explanation for this low percentage. The good news is all regular vapers involved in the survey are current or former smokers. Only 9% of those who admitted having experimented with e-cigarettes had never smoked, which made experts from the Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction declare that “at the moment, e-cigarettes seem to be a doorway out of smoking” and not the other way around, as most vaping opponents would have us believe.

The growing popularity of electronic cigarettes among current and ex-smokers also appears to have influenced smoking cessation habits. We recently reported e-cigarettes have affected the sales of nicotine replacement therapy products like patches, gum and lozenges, a fact confirmed by the French media and even pharmaceutical companies. People seem to have also shunned tobaccologists (doctors specialized in treating tobacco addiction) in favor of e-cigs.

Sources: Pourquoi Docteur, 60 Millions de Consommateurs

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