Rise in e-cigarettes linked to rise in smokers quitting, say researchers

Barsaba Taglieri
Luglio 27, 2017

The study finds that more people using e-cigarettes are responsible for quitting smoking and these electronic devices can actually help reduce the traditional smoking rates. Zhu explained that smokers who shifted to e-cigarettes were more likely to attempt to quit smoking and more likely to succeed in kicking the habit.

Kenneth Warner, a professor of public health at the University of MI, welcomed the findings.

E-cigarettes have appeared in the U.S.in 2007 and have been promoted as a less risky alternative to regular cigarettes. E-cigarette users were identified from the most recent survey (2014-15) and smoking cessation rates were obtained from those who reported smoking cigarettes 12 months before the survey. "That way, smokers can get what they want without killing themselves", he added. Over the years the quitting rate remained same for traditional smokers while the rates of quitting among e-cigarettes rose significantly Zhu noted.

Although the 1.1 percentage point increase in cessation rate might appear small, the researchers highlighted that it represented around 350,000 additional U.S. smokers who quit during 2014-15. This is the first statistically significant increase observed in population smoking cessation among U.S. adults in the past 15 years.

"Other interventions that occurred concurrently, such as a national campaign showing evocative ads that highlight the serious health consequences of tobacco use, most likely played a role in increasing the cessation rate", said the researchers in the British Medical Journal.

To examine the effects of e-cigs use on quitting smoking, Zhu and his colleagues collected data from the US Census CPS-TUS.

A team of researchers, led by Professor Shu-Hong Zhu at the University of California, set out to examine whether the increase in use of e-cigarettes in the US, was associated with a change in overall smoking cessation rate at the population level. Unlike nicotine chewing gum and patches, e-cigs, which heat nicotine-laced liquid into vapor, mimic the experience of smoking a cigarette.

For the study, published today in the journal BMJ, researchers analyzed survey data from over 160,000 people spanning nearly 15 years.

The research, conducted by a collaboration between the universities of Stirling, St Andrews and Edinburgh, and ScotCen, focused on pupils at four secondary schools. Young people aged between 11 and 18 years old were surveyed in February-March 2015 and then again 12 months later. "Use of e-cigarettes was associated both with a higher quit rate for individuals as well as at the population level; driving an increase in the overall number of people quitting". Also the study did not explore other factors that could be concomitantly associated with quitting rates such as use of other medications to quit smoking or the type of e-cigarettes used etc. More than 70 percent of those who quit smoking recently were successful, but they used e-cigs daily to prevent a relapse.

Among these, almost half of recent quitters had tried e-cigarettes, the researchers found.

The body would regularly update its evidence base on e-cigarettes and include the advice in all quit smoking campaign messaging, added the plan, it said.

Christopher Bullen, professor of public health at the University of Auckland, said that any ill effects of e-cigarettes are 'likely to be rare compared with the harms of continuing to smoke.

Lawmakers in several places - including Texas, Maine, Michigan and Nebraska - have taken steps to raise the minimum age for buying conventional tobacco products and e-cigarettes.

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