Effect of tobacco and electronic cigarette use on cough reflex sensitivity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Multiple previous studies have shown that otherwise healthy tobacco cigarette smokers have suppressed cough reflex sensitivity compared with nonsmokers and furthermore, that smoking cessation, even after years of tobacco use, leads to prompt enhancement of cough reflex sensitivity. Thus, cough reflex sensitivity is demonstrated to be a dynamic phenomenon, responding to the presence or absence of influences such as tobacco smoke. These studies, however, were unable to identify whether it was the influence of nicotine, or one or more of the numerous components of tobacco cigarette smoke, that were responsible for this effect.More recently, it has been shown that a single exposure to electronic cigarette (e-cig) vapor causes inhibition of cough reflex sensitivity in healthy lifetime nonsmokers. An identical study employing a non-nicotine containing e-cig confirmed an absence of effect on cough reflex sensitivity, thus implicating nicotine as the causative agent of these findings. Recent animal studies demonstrate cough suppression after injection of nicotine into the brains of cats, thus supporting a centrally-mediated antitussive effect of nicotine to explain the results of the aforementioned studies of tobacco smoke and e-cig vapor exposure in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
StateAccepted/In press - Aug 19 2016


  • Capsaicin
  • E-cig
  • Electronic cigarette
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco
  • Vaping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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