Cigarette 03

Quitting to smoke could be something as simple as throwing away the box, but we know it is not as easy as it sounds. Experts at the University of East London (UEL) have shown how electronic e-cigarettes may have the potential to help smokers quit while keeping their working memory intact.

About 85 general smokers including men and women were exposed to e-cigarettes with nicotine, ones with placebos and lastly dummy acts of simply holding the device. After about 5 minutes of usage, the subjects filled in questionnaires gauging their mood swings and desires. Another similar kind of individual survey followed, after which nearly 60 of them finished a task. The activity was designed to check the functioning of their working memory after 10 to 15 minutes of using the e-cigarette.

“Perhaps more significantly, we found that e-cigarettes with nicotine help maintain working memory in smokers who have not smoked for an hour or two. People who choose to stop smoking without using a nicotine substitute may therefore suffer a period during which their working memory levels dip until their bodies adjust to the reduced levels of nicotine,” commented Dr Lynne Dawkins of UEL.

According to what was observed, e-cigarettes laced with nicotine seemed to be effective in uplifting the mood as well as reducing cravings. This effect was more pronounced in men, the reason for which is still not clear. As far as women were concerned, they did not appear to encounter any explicit difference between smoking a placebo device or a nicotine counterpart. Importantly, e-cigarette with nicotine conserved the working memory for men as well as women, as observed by the analysts.

This explains why some people who do not inhale nicotine while trying to quit the habit encounter a drop in their working memory levels. Basically, their bodies are not accustomed to the reduced proportions of nicotine, after being smokers for a considerable amount of time. This major shortcoming was supposedly resolved in case of e-cigarettes containing nicotine. The idea is to smoke e-cigarettes, conserve thoughts, beat desires and eventually kick off the habit, as far as the study goes.

The findings were presented at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in London.