Electronic cigarettes hold promise as aid to quitting

Feb 08, 2011

A study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers reports that electronic cigarettes are a promising tool to help smokers quit, producing six-month abstinence rates nearly double those for traditional nicotine replacement products.

In a study published online ahead of print in the , researchers found that 31 percent of respondents reported having quit six months after first purchasing an electronic cigarette, a battery-powered device providing tobacco-less doses of nicotine in a vaporized solution. The average six-month abstinence rate for traditional nicotine replacement products, such as or gum, is between 12 and 18 percent.

"This study suggests that electronic cigarettes are helping thousands of ex-smokers remain off cigarettes," said lead author Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences.

The researchers conducted an online survey of 222 first-time purchasers of electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, from a leading electronic cigarette distributor. Of those who were not smoking at six months, 34.3 percent reported not using electronic cigarettes or any nicotine-containing products. Almost 67 percent of respondents reported having reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked after using electronic cigarettes.

The study's main limitation is the low response rate of 4.5 percent. It is possible that those who responded to the survey were more likely to have quit smoking than those who did not respond. Nevertheless, despite this limitation, the study authors believe that this is the best evidence to date on the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation.

They point out that this is the first survey that relied upon an unbiased sampling frame.

Despite the limitation, the authors conclude that electronic cigarettes "hold promise as a smoking-cessation method and that they are worthy of further study using more rigorous research designs."

While more study needs to be done on the actual mechanisms of what apparently makes electronic cigarettes effective, Siegel said he believes there might be a link between the e-cigarette's physical simulation of smoking with the success of quitting.

"While it is well-recognized that plays a role in smoking addiction, little attention has been given to the behavioral aspects of the addiction," he said. "These devices simulate the smoking experience, which appears to make them effective as a smoking cessation tool."

Electronic cigarettes have proven controversial since coming onto the market more than three years ago. A number of anti-smoking groups have argued that e-cigarettes should not be sold because they have not been shown to be effective for , and several states – including New York – are considering banning e-cigarettes altogether.

"Banning this product would invariably result in many ex-smokers returning to cigarette smoking," Siegel said. "Removing from the market would substantially harm the public's health."

The study was co-authored by Kerry L. Tanwar and Kathleen S. Wood, also of Boston University School of Public Health.

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

Provided by Boston University Medical Center

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Safety, effectiveness of e-cigarettes unknown

Feb 08, 2011

Electronic cigarettes are drawing heavy media and marketing attention, and while a new study finds that consumer interest also runs high, a companion study underscores that e-cigarettes’ ability to help ...

Recommended for you

AMA examines economic impact of physicians

7 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Physicians who mainly engage in patient care contribute a total of $1.6 trillion in economic output, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)'s Economic Impact Study.

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

7 hours ago

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

8 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.