E-cigarettes comparable to patches – NZ research

Electronic cigarettes are as effective as nicotine patches in aiding smokers to give up tobacco, according to new research. However the researchers behind the study note that e-cigarettes might be a more desirable option for quitters.

Smoke without fire?The first ever trial to compare e-cigarettes with nicotine patches has found that both methods result in comparable success in quitting, with roughly similar proportions of smokers who used either method remaining abstinent from smoking for six months after a 13 week course of patches or e-cigarettes.

The study, undertaken by researchers from the University of Auckland, was published in the Lancet and presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Barcelona, Spain. You can find out more about the study in a Herald on Sunday feature article and via coverage from TVNZ News and TV3 news.

“While our results don’t show any clear-cut differences between e-cigarettes and patches in terms of quit success after six months, it certainly seems that e-cigarettes were more effective in helping smokers who didn’t quit to cut down,” said author Associate Professor Chris Bullen in a media release. “It’s also interesting that the people who took part in our study seemed to be much more enthusiastic about e-cigarettes than patches, as evidenced by the far greater proportion of people in both of the e-cigarette groups who said they’d recommend them to family or friends, compared to patches.”

Our colleagues at the UK SMC collected the following expert commentary. Feel free to use these quotes in your reporting. If you would like to contact a New Zealand expert, please contact the SMC (04 499 5476; smc@sciencemediacentre.co.nz).

Prof Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies & National Addiction Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, said:

“Electronic cigarettes are the most exciting new development in tobacco control over the last few decades as we have witnessed a rapid uptake of these much less harmful products by smokers in the UK and anecdotally reports that they are helping smokers to stop. The Bullen study provides new evidence that e-cigarettes are as good as nicotine patches, when offered with minimal support, in stopping smoking, and better for reducing cigarette consumption. Electronic cigarettes have evolved and proliferated since this study was carried out, so it’s likely the findings are conservative. The popularity of e-cigarettes suggests that we now have a product that can compete with cigarettes, thus heralding the first real possibility that cigarette smoking could be phased out and the death, disease, health inequalities and misery that smoking causes become a thing of the past.”