UK study: E-cigarettes not effective in the longterm in helping smokers quit

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This study is going to go against a lot of anecdotal stories that I see repeatedly on the Internet. A study done in the UK has shown that E-cigarettes are not very effective for helping smokers quit and that most smokers who use E-cigs as a smoking cessation tool are back smoking within six months.

In a way, it’s not terribly shocking because the biggest problem with using e-cigs to quit is that the smoker is keeping the nicotine in his or her system and is not kicking the nicotine … which is ultimately what a smoker must do in the long run. I’ve seen a lot of e-cig advocates online touting them as a great help in quitting smoking. They claim you can slowly ratchet down the amount of nicotine you’re inhaling over the course of a few weeks.

I’m sure they’re a great help for some people, but I’ve also sure wondered at times how many of those people online telling these great success stories about e-cigs are actually from the marketing or public relations department of Blu E-cigs and other e-cig companies.

These findings were based on a review of 22 studies on e-cigs involving a total of 2,223 smokers. The study states that e-cigs seem pretty effective in helping smokers quit for three to six months, but after six months, most of the e-cig users were back on cigarettes. (So maybe some of the anecdotal stories I’ve read are coming from people in that three- to six-month period in which the e-cigs are still working.).

Scientists behind the study said that if smokers are serious about quitting, they should probably try more traditional methods, such as patches or gum, rather than e-cigs.

From the article:

Lead author Dr Riyad al-Lehebi, of the University of Toronto, said nicotine patches and other aids to help people quit should be used if there is no evidence e-cigarettes help people kick the habit.

E-cigarette users took up smoking again within six months, and the devices caused side effects like a dry cough, throat irritation and shortness of breath (file photo)

He said: ‘Although e-cigarettes are widely promoted and used as a smoking cessation tool, we found no data supporting their long-term efficacy and safety.

‘While e-cigarettes have been shown to significantly improve abstinence at one month compared with placebo, no such evidence is available supporting their effectiveness for longer periods.

‘Until such data are available, there are a number of other smoking cessation aids available that have a more robust evidence base supporting their efficacy and safety.’

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: ‘Smoking remains the number one cause of preventable death in the UK, and we would encourage smokers who wish to quit to first try more well-established methods like smoking cessation services.

‘E-cigarettes are likely to be much less harmful then smoking conventional cigarettes so people who can switch using e-cigarettes have taken a big step forward.

‘However, the use of e-cigarettes is still relatively new, and these studies serve as a reminder that there may be potential risks attached to the long-term use of e-cigarettes so users, especially those living with a lung condition such as COPD and asthma, should try to quit them too.

My biggest issue with e-cigs isn’t whether they are an effective or ineffective smoking cessation tool. It’s the fact that a number of e-cig companies are very blatantly marketing to teens and kids with sexy and suave ads mirroring the sexy and suave ads used by Big Tobacco for several decades. Largely because of this advertising, and the lack of regulations over e-cig sales, teen use of e-cigs is skyrocketing while teen use of cigarettes is plummeting. To me, this is not the right answer. Nicotine is nicotine whatever the delivery system and It’s still massively addictive and this study shows to me that e-cigs are not an effective substitute for tobacco.

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