New research shows that smokers who are trying to quit are 60% more likely to succeed if they switch to e-cigarettes compared to those who use willpower alone or try nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches or gum.
The results, which are set to appear in the science journal Addiction, were based on a survey of almost 6,000 smokers over a five year period. Funded by the charity Cancer UK, the study suggests that e-cigarettes could play an important role in reducing smoking rates and, by consequence, tobacco-related illnesses and deaths.
The results were adjusted to account for a wide range of factors that might influence success, including age, nicotine dependence, previous quit attempts, and whether quitting was gradual or abrupt.
The survey found that 20% of people trying to quit with the aid of e-cigarettes stopped smoking conventional cigarettes. This compares with just 10% of those using over-the-counter aids and 15.4% who used willpower alone.
Electronic cigarettes are essentially a nicotine delivery mechanism that contains no tobacco. The jury's still out on the longterm health impacts of e-cigarettes, but preliminary results have shown that the nicotine-laced vapor generated by an electronic cigarette promotes the development of cancer in certain types of human cells much in the same way that tobacco smoke does. But how this compares to the tobacco in conventional cigarettes (or other carcinogens in our environment, like the charred crust of a grilled steak), is still not known.