Do e-cigarettes help tobacco smokers quit?

Huh File

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine believe e-cigarettes have helped fuel the increase.

"Further research is required to discover how experimentation with e-cigarettes might influence attitudes to smoking in young people traditionally at lower risk of becoming smokers; and importantly how many of this group who do experiment with cigarettes go on to smoke regularly".

The findings were published in the journal BMJ.

The Truth Initiative, a US antismoking group, has embraced the so-called "harm reduction" approach, advising smokers who are unable to quit to switch to products such as Swedish-style tobacco pouches called snus or "properly regulated" e-cigarettes.

Pharmacotherapy has been shown to help some people to quit smoking, but not at the same rate as e-cigs. "For the first time in a long time, we are seeing more people quitting".

A total of 65 percent of smokers who used e-cigs within 12 months had attempted to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, compared to 40 percent of smokers who didn't use e-cigs. While the sale of e-cigarettes is banned in Australia, U.K provides a license to e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid.

To assess e-cigarette use and associated changes in population smoking cessation in the U.S., researchers analyzed data from U.S. Current Population Survey-Tobacco Use Supplement for 2001, 2003, 2006, 2010 and 2014.

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Zhu added that a national tobacco control campaign that began airing in 2012 probably also helped boost quit rates. Of these, 38.2% of current smokers and 49.3% of recent quitters tried e-cigarettes and 11.5% of current smokers and 19% of recent quitters reported current use. E-cigarettes have become the nation's favourite quitting tool and 1.5 million vapers have stopped smoking completely.

"If the 40 million smokers in the USA switched to e-cigarettes, the nation would be a lot healthier for it", Schroeder said.

But while the risks of e-cigarettes are still somewhat unclear, some public health experts say the results are promising.

"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.

Earlier this month, a House panel renewed its efforts to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from requiring safety reviews of e-cigarettes already on the market.

One limitation of the study is that details on how participants actually stopped smoking weren't available.

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

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