Attitudes towards a hypothetical ‘clean nicotine’ product and harm reduction among smokers

Kylie Morphett, Cheneal Puljević, Ron Borland, Adrian Carter, Wayne Hall, Coral Gartner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Background: Cleaner nicotine delivery devices, such as nicotine vaping products (NVPs), could expose smokers to less harm than combustible cigarettes. While use of NVPs is increasing, it is unknown how harm reduction attitudes are related to intention to use these or other “clean nicotine” products and how smokers would prefer to use them. Methods: A sample of 1,538 Australian smokers participated in an online survey. Questions covered use NVPs and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), and attitudes towards a hypothetical “clean nicotine” product and tobacco harm reduction. Results: Lifetime use of NVPs was reported by 21% of participants, while 42% reported that they would probably or definitely use NVPs as a cessation aid in the future. Around three-quarters expressed interest in using a hypothetical clean nicotine product as a short-term cessation aid (75.7%), a long-term substitute for cigarettes (72.4%), or as a partial replacement for cigarettes (74.9%). However, despite this interest, 52% endorsed the statement that using nicotine products long-term was undesirable because it maintained nicotine addiction. A binary logistic regression showed that interest in using the hypothetical “clean nicotine” product was associated with higher education, moderate nicotine dependence, support of tobacco harm reduction, and previous use of NRT and NVPs. Conclusion: Most smokers were interested in the use of a hypothetical clean nicotine product that is as addictive as combustible cigarettes but much less harmful. However, many of the participants who were interested in the use of a hypothetical clean nicotine product also endorsed statements that long-term addiction to nicotine is undesirable. These seemingly contradictory findings have implications for communication with smokers about tobacco harm reduction approaches with non-smoked nicotine products.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103020
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • E-cigarettes
  • Harm perceptions
  • Harm reduction
  • Nicotine vaping products
  • Tobacco smoking

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