E-cigarettes can safely help people quit smoking, study says

Leslie Hanson
February 3, 2019

E-cigarettes are nearly twice as effective as nicotine replacement treatments, such as patches and gum, at helping smokers to quit, according to a clinical trial led by Queen Mary University of London.

However, people who switched to vaping were far more likely to keep vaping, indicating they may have exchanged one nicotine delivery device for another, without ever beating their addiction. They also received four weeks of anti-smoking counseling.

For the roughly 15% of Americans who smoke, the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved e-cigs as a means for quitting.

The study, funded by The National Institute for Health Research and supported by Cancer Research UK, was published in The New England Journal of Medicine (citation below).

Study author Dunja Przulj from Queen Mary University of London said: "The UK specialist stop smoking services will now be more likely to include e-cigarettes among their treatment options, and health professionals will feel more comfortable in recommending e-cigarettes as a stop-smoking intervention".

But he added: 'Given that ecigs may cause some harm when used over many years I would encourage users to think of them as a stop-gap, but they are far better than smoking - ex-smokers should not stop using them if they are anxious they may go back to cigarettes'. E-cigarettes were nearly twice as effective as the "gold standard" combination of nicotine replacement products.

"Australia can catch up with Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom and legalise smoke-free alternatives to help smokers quit for good". Nine percent of the participants in the other group were still using gums and other nicotine-replacement products.

But in an email exchange with MedPage Today, Berry explained that numerous prior studies may have been subject to methodological limitations because they started with a sample of youth who were never cigarette users, assessed their e-cigarette use at that early time point, and then reviewed their smoking status after a year of follow-up.

"In our study, smokers used e-cigarettes much like other nicotine replacement treatments".

According to Martin Dockrell, tobacco control lead at Public Health England, "this landmark research shows that switching to an e-cigarette can be one of the most effective ways to quit smoking, especially when combined with face-to-face support".

Vaping skeptics question the efficacy of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation, often citing the lack of clinical trials proving a benefit to smokers. "However, particularly in the USA, smokers are not, in general, using e-cigarettes under such conditions".

"The study was performed under medical supervision and with medical behavioural support of the smokers that tried to quit", Jordt, who is not affiliated with the research, said. After all, not only are e-cigarettes helping people quit, they are 95 percent less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

Yet, the FDA's current and continued actions against the e-cigarette industry are impeding current smokers' access to e-cigarettes. From 2017 to 2018, it increased by 78 percent. The starter pack contained a second-generation refillable e-cigarette with one bottle of nicotine e-liquid, plus a recommendation to purchase further e-liquids of the flavour and strength of their choice. Those devices have largely been overtaken in the U.S.by Juul and similar devices that have prefilled nicotine cartridges, or pods.

"It is a fundamental mistake to think that all e-cigarettes are alike, " Myers said.

"Adult use may not only expose children to e-cigarette vapor but also models addictive behavior", and boosts the risk that kids will take up combustible cigarettes themselves one day, the editorial said.

The design of the new study, which centers around a youth's very first tobacco product use, allowed the researchers to create what Berry described as "a loose timeline of the order of products used, that, in theory, avoids these potential issues".

Myers' group is one of several anti-smoking organizations suing the FDA to immediately begin reviewing e-cigarettes.

"I tried it for a whole month, but it just wasn't doing it for me, " said Armitage, an audio-visual technician in Washington.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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