Switching to e-cigarettes could help smokers who are trying to quit from putting on weight, experts have suggested.
Research in Britain and New Zealand have suggested that e-cigarettes which contain nicotine but no tobacco, may help prevent weight gain and tackle a growing obesity crisis.
The report, 'Could vaping be a new weapon in the battle of the budge?' which was published in the Nicotine & Tobacco Research journal, explores the emerging perception that vaping electronic cigarettes could "deliver similar appetite and weight control effects as smoking".
On average, people put on around 5kg in their first year they quit smoking as nicotine is known to suppress the appetite. This is a major factor which puts off many smokers from trying to quit.
The authors Marewa Glover, Bernhard Brier and Linda Bauld note in the report that "as the prevalence of tobacco smoking has been decreasing, obesity has increased" and suggest that e-cigarettes could help to tackle cravings for certain foods.
There are several potential mechanisms by which vaping, in addition to the direct effects of nicotine, could facilitate weight control, these include taste perception, physical mouthfeel, and sensation and behavioral replacement. Research on the potential for vaping to support weight control may be worth pursuing given the human and economic costs of the global obesity epidemic and the failure of current obesity prevention strategies.
Vaping is being seen as an effective tool to help smokers quit, and is associated with lower risks to health.
The industry is controversial, however, and some have questioned the long-term risks of the alternative to cigarettes, which have yet to be fully explored.
The World Health Organisation have called for more regulation, but traditional tobacco giants are investing in the trend to make up for falls in the number of smokers.
The authors of the report note that more research into the subject is needed, and call for trials into the effects of vaping on weight gain for smokers trying to give up.