Electronic Cigarettes Linked to Helping Smokers Kick the Habit

Finally, an increase in the smoking cessation rate is seen in the United States and a new study suggests electronic cigarettes may be attributed to this reduction in traditional smoking rates.

Cigarette smokers who use electronic cigarettes, commonly known as e-cigarettes, are more likely to quit traditional tobacco cigarettes and succeed in their smoking cessation efforts, according to the recent US study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

“From 2014 to 2015, more e-cigarette users tried to quit cigarette smoking and succeeded in quitting than those who didn’t use e-cigarettes,” said principal study author Shu-Hong Zhu, director of the university’s Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control.

For the study, Zhu and colleagues examined responses from more than 160,000 people, including more than 22,500 current smokers and more than 2,100 recent quitters, who took part in a national survey in 2014-2015, and data from large population based study between 2001 and 2015.

They found that those who used electronic cigarettes, aka vaping devices, were more likely than nonusers to attempt to quit smoking; 65 percent versus 40 percent. Also, vapers were more likely than traditional cigarette smokers to succeed in kicking the habit for at least three months; 8.2 percent versus 4.8 percent.

Zhu’s team estimated that a 1 percent increase in the smoking cessation rate represents about 350,000 additional smokers who quit smoking over a year.

“This is the first statistically significant increase observed in population smoking cessation among US adults in nearly a quarter of a century,” said the report.

“People should be open to consider e-cigarettes as a way to help them quit, especially if they have used everything else in the past,” Zhu said. “The important thing is that people continue to try.”

Meanwhile, Kenneth Warner, a professor of public health at the University of Michigan, has welcomed the study findings, saying the researchers have come up with their conclusion after reviewing a large data set.

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

“With proper regulation, we could increase the potential of e-cigarettes to reduce the horrific toll of cigarette smoking in our society,” he added.

The researchers said their “findings need to be weighed carefully in regulatory policy making and in the planning of tobacco control interventions.”

The study, titled ‘E-cigarette use and associated changes in population smoking cessation: evidence from US current population surveys,’ was published July 26 in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).