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

Grant Boone
February 3, 2019

The study, involving nearly 900 smokers, found that 18 percent of e-cigarette users were smoke-free after a year, compared to 9.9 percent who tried quitting using other products. Eighteen percent of vapers were still tobacco-free after a year, compared to 10 percent of those using traditional treatment and only 3 percent of those quitting cold turkey.

Among trial participants who didn't quit smoking, 40 percent of the vaping group continued to vape and smoke ("dual use"), while just 4 percent of the NRT group kept using NRT.

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research, supported by Cancer Research UK and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the new study was set-up to test the long-term efficacy of newer refillable e-cigarettes compared with a range of nicotine replacement treatments.

Despite all this, there's something about either e-cigarettes or the experience of vaping that appears to open the doorway for these particular kids, making them more likely to light up in the future, Stokes said.

Yet, sadly, polls show that of the 37.8 million adults in the United States who now smoke, roughly 65 percent think e-cigarettes are just as harmful as smoking traditional cigarettes.

Other researchers involved in the study came from Queen Mary and other British universities, and from an American institution.

The study team acknowledged, however, that prior research has demonstrated that when nicotine replacement products are paired with prescription medications - such as the nicotine receptor blocker Chantix (varenicline) and/or bupropion one year abstinence rates are the same or higher as the e-cig results.

David Abrams, a professor of social and behavioral sciences at New York University who is a strong supporter of e-cigarettes, said the editorial calling for a ban "misses the boat".

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The New York Times reports that a yearlong, randomized trial conducted in the UK shows that e-cigarettes are almost twice as effective as smoking cessation products like patches or gum, which in the United States are the only two smoking cessation products approved by the FDA. Those dual users may gradually reduce the cigarettes they smoke, as so many vapers do.

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'.

"We really isolated a very low-risk group of youth, and within that group experimentation with e-cigarettes had a pronounced effect on subsequent cigarette uptake", Stokes said. Nine percent of the participants in the other group were still using gums and other nicotine-replacement products. Both groups were also given at least a month's worth of weekly counseling sessions.

And while Gottlieb continues to promote the idea that there's a teen vaping epidemic, the data doesn't bare this out at all.

People who used e-cigarettes to stop smoking had almost twice the one-year abstinence rate of those who used nicotine-replacement therapy, according to a study published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

'E-cigarette vapour contains many toxins and exerts potentially adverse biologic effects on human cells. although toxin levels and biologic effects are generally lower than those of tobacco smoke'. This research should give doctors, nurses, pharmacists and Stop Smoking Service advisers further confidence to recommend e-cigarettes as an effective means of quitting. Przulj thinks that's a risk definitely worth taking.

Last night United States experts at Boston University reiterated their caution - and said smokers should only be given e-cigarettes if they have failed to quit using other methods.

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