A new report indicates that smokers attempting to quit on their own are 60 percent more likely to succeed if they use e-cigarettes rather than willpower alone, or in combination with over-the-counter cessation aids.
Researchers at University College London found that electronic or e-cigarettes help smokers quit smoking, improving their chances of success significantly over will power alone or with over-the-counter nicotine replacement products such as gum and patches. The investigators administered a survey to 5,863 smokers in England between 2009 and 2014 who tried to quit smoking without professional counseling or prescription medication. The study results were adjusted for age, nicotine dependence, history of cessation attempts, abrupt versus gradual cessation strategy, and a variety of other influential factors.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat and vaporize a liquid containing nicotine, flavoring, and other chemicals. The aerosol from e-cigarettes is inhaled in much the same way as the smoke of conventional cigarettes. The products are only lightly regulated in the U.S.
According to the findings, 20 percent of the respondents who used e-cigarettes in trying to quit smoking conventional cigarettes reported success. Fifteen percent of respondents reported cessation by will power alone, and only 10 percent reported cessation with nicotine patches or gums.
“The potential public health aspect to e-cigarettes is they seem to tap into a widespread appeal that these types of cessation methods have never managed to do,” Jamie Brown, one of the study’s authors, said in an interview. “In so far as e-cigarettes helped people to stop, then the fact that they are so widely used could suggest that it would have a quite positive public health effect.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , an estimated 42 million Americans currently smoke and among them, 68 percent are trying to stop. E-cigarettes are not without risks, but they lack the harmful combustion products delivered by conventional cigarettes. The claim that they help smokers to quit conventional smoking has been a matter of intense debate. The new study is a major step forward in the conversation because of the large sample size.