People attempting to quit smoking without professional help are 60% more likely to report succeeding if they use e-cigarettes than if they use willpower or over-the-counter aids such as patches or gum, according to new research in the UK.
The study surveyed 5,863 smokers between 2009 and 2014 who tried to quit smoking without the aid of prescription medication or professional support.
One out of five people trying to quit with the aid of e-cigarette devices, which heat nicotine to a vapour which can be “smoked”, reported having stopped using conventional cigarettes at the time of the survey.
“E-cigarettes could substantially improve public health because of their widespread appeal and the huge health gains associated with stopping smoking,” says Professor Robert West of University College London and senior author of the study.
However, he says the strongest evidence remains for use of stop-smoking services available through the NHS (National Health Service). These almost triple a smokerâ€™s odds of successfully quitting compared with going it alone or relying on over-the-counter products.
The researchers say:
“By providing a vapour containing nicotine without tobacco combustion, e-cigarettes appear able to reduce craving and withdrawal associated with abstinence in smokers while toxicity testing suggests that they are much safer to the user than ordinary cigarettes.”
The current study together with previous trials suggests e-cigarettes may prove to be an effective aid to smoking cessation.
The researcher say e-cigarettes may substantially improve public health because of their widespread appeal and the huge health gains associated with stopping smoking.
However, this has to be offset against any detrimental effects of e-cigarettes when the long-term impact on health has been established.
It has been suggested that e-cigarettes might re-normalise smoking, promote experimentation among young people who otherwise may not have tried smoking or lead to dual-use together with traditional cigarettes and thereby deter some smokers from stopping.
The researcher say the current data do not address these issues.
The results of the study, “Real-world effectiveness of e-cigarettes when used to aid smoking cessation: a cross-sectional population study”, are published in the journal Addiction.
READ our previous article A Major Problem With E-Cigarettes: They May Be Encouraging People To Take Up The Real Thing