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Open AccessArticle

When Less is More: Vaping Low-Nicotine vs. High-Nicotine E-Liquid is Compensated by Increased Wattage and Higher Liquid Consumption

Thomas More University of Applied Sciences, Molenstraat 8, 2018 Antwerp, Belgium
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven—University of Leuven, Tiensestraat 102, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
Department of Cardiology, Erasme University Hospital, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(5), 723;
Received: 25 January 2019 / Revised: 22 February 2019 / Accepted: 24 February 2019 / Published: 28 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smoking Cessation)
(1) Background: Previous research (Van Gucht, Adriaens, and Baeyens, 2017) showed that almost all (99%) of the 203 surveyed customers of a Dutch online vape shop had a history of smoking before they had started using an e-cigarette. Almost all were daily vapers who used on average 20 mL e-liquid per week, with an average nicotine concentration of 10 mg/mL. In the current study, we wanted to investigate certain evolutions with regard to technical aspects of vaping behaviour, such as wattage, the volume of e-liquid used and nicotine concentration. In recent years, much more powerful devices have become widely available, e-liquids with very low nicotine concentrations have become the rule rather than the exception in the market supply, and the legislation has been adjusted, including a restriction on maximum nicotine concentrations to 20 mg/mL. (2) Methods: Customers (n = 150) from the same Dutch online vape shop were contacted (to allow a historical comparison), as well as 274 visitors from the Facebook group “Belgian Vape Bond” to compare between groups from two different geographies and/or vaping cultures. (3) Results: Most results were in line with earlier findings: Almost all surveyed vapers were (ex-)smokers, had started (80%) vaping to quit smoking and reported similar positive effects of having switched from smoking to vaping (e.g., improved health). A striking observation, however, was that whereas customers of the Dutch online vape shop used e-liquids with a similar nicotine concentration as that observed previously, the Belgian vapers used e-liquids with a significantly lower nicotine concentration but consumed much more of it. The resulting intake of the total quantity of nicotine did not differ between groups. (4) Conclusions: Among vapers, different vaping typologies may exist, depending on subcultural and/or geographic parameters. As a consequence of choosing low nicotine concentrations and consuming more e-liquid, the Belgian vapers may have a greater potential to expose themselves to larger quantities of harmful or potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs) released during vaping. View Full-Text
Keywords: electronic cigarette; trends in vaping; nicotine electronic cigarette; trends in vaping; nicotine
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Smets, J.; Baeyens, F.; Chaumont, M.; Adriaens, K.; Van Gucht, D. When Less is More: Vaping Low-Nicotine vs. High-Nicotine E-Liquid is Compensated by Increased Wattage and Higher Liquid Consumption. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 723.

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