Cigarettes Users More Likely To Quit Smoking, Study Finds

Ellen Mills
July 28, 2017

"It's absolutely clear that e-cigarettes help smokers replace cigarettes", said Peter Hajek, director of the health and lifestyle research unit at Queen Mary University in London, who wasn't part of the study.

In the new study, researchers looked at data on the smoking habits of more than 160,000 Americans, taking particular note of whether these smokers reported using e-cigarettes or not.

Overall, more people quit in the year 2014-15, than in 2010-11.

With the rising popularity of e-cigarettes, the debate over whether these devices are a legitimate aid to smoking cessation - or just another way for people to get hooked on nicotine - has raged in recent years.

E-cigarettes have become increasingly popular in the United Kingdom, with an estimated 2.9 million adults vaping regularly.

"The people who say that use of e-cigarettes inhibits cessation should be sobered by this paper", said Dr. Steven Schroeder, a physician and tobacco researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.

One limitation of the study is that details on how participants actually stopped smoking weren't available. But it did find that e-cigs do have a role in helping people quit.

The BMJ study, titled "E-cigarette use and associated changes in population smoking cessation: evidence from U.S. current population surveys" was undertaken to find whether the dramatic increase in vaping between 2010-2014 had any connection with an overall drop in smoking in the US. USA health officials have continued to promote abstinence to the public rather than encourage smokers to switch to less harmful products: online fact sheets published by CDC, FDA, and the National Cancer Institute list multiple health risks associated with smokeless tobacco, but give no indication it is less harmful than cigarettes. The study also found that around 8 percent of smokers who used e-cigarettes and tried to quit were successful, compared to only around 5 percent of nonusers. The authors write that things like national ad campaigns against smoking and a tobacco tax probably helped, too.

Here, "cessation rate" was how many people, who were smokers 12 months before the survey, quit for at least three months. E-cigarettes have become the nation's favourite quitting tool and 1.5 million vapers have stopped smoking completely.

E-cig users also report finding it easier to refrain from their habit when in no-vaping areas, the study found.

According to Action on Smoking and Health, over half (52 per cent) of e-cigarette users are now ex-smokers. "But if those don't work - try an e-cigarette".

Regulation policies on e- cigarettes differ from country to country.

"This study suggests that we should be receptive to the kind of approach that health authorities in England have taken, encouraging smokers who can not quit otherwise to try e-cigarettes", Warner said.

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