E-cigarettes linked to helping people quit smoking

Around 44% of Australian smokers have already tried vaping despite the sale of nicotine being illegal. Source AACS

It showed that 49.3% of recent quitters had tried e-cigarettes, and that out of all smokers past and present, between 11.5% and 19% were current e-cigarette users.

They also found that people who vape are more likely to stop smoking for at least three months. The U.S. research is the largest look yet at electronic cigarette users and it found e-cigarettes played a role in helping people quit.

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.

Cessation rate was defined as the percentage of those who had quit for at least three months, who had been smoking for at least 12 months.

Reviewing survey responses from almost 25,000 current and former smokers in 2014-2015, Zhu and his colleagues found that "vapers" were more likely than nonusers to make a quit attempt (65 percent versus 40 percent).

"The rate at which people have made a quit attempt or successfully quit smoking has stagnated for many years", said Dr. Kurt Ribisl, a professor at the University of North Carolina and a member of the FDA's Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee. However, this is the first study to report from the UK.

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Glantz, in fact, previously authored a study finding that e-cigarettes may actually stymie efforts to quit smoking. US 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. "But analysis of the [Current Population Survey-Tobacco Use Supplement] most recent data presents a strong case that e-cigarette use contributed to an increase in smoking cessation at the population level". More than 70 percent of those who quit smoking recently were successful, but they used e-cigs daily to prevent a relapse.

There are also concerns that vaping can encourage people to start smoking tobacco.

The study, which is based on survey data pooled from over 160,000 people over an nearly 15-year time-span, also found that 65% of e-cig users attempted to quit smoking, as opposed to 40% of regular smokers.

Dr Catherine Best, research fellow at the University of Stirling, said: "Our findings are broadly similar to those from eight other USA studies".

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

The study was based on a survey conducted in 2014-15.

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