Do e-cigs help smokers quit? – Expert Reaction

Two new reports suggest using e-cigarettes help people quit smoking, including a Cochrane Collaboration review that included a New Zealand study.

girn in cafe with E-CigaretteA study published in the British Medical Journal this morning suggests the growth in the use of e-cigarettes in England has been associated with a higher rate of successful attempts to quit smoking.

A review from the Cochrane Collaboration was released at the same time, which left the conclusion from two years ago unchanged: there is some evidence e-cigarettes may help smokers quit.

Consultation has just closed in New Zealand on a decision whether to permit the sale of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes.

Journalists can access the studies on The UK SMC collected expert reaction on the two studies.

Prof. Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London, said:

“We increasingly know or hear of people who say that electronic cigarettes helped them to stop smoking. These two new publications, using very different designs, provide objective evidence for this.

“The BMJ study found that successful quit attempts increased over the period of time that electronic cigarettes became popular.  The Cochrane study included an analysis of two of the most robustly designed studies and found that electronic cigarettes with nicotine helped smokers to stop.

“In my view, smokers struggling to stop should try all possible methods, including electronic cigarettes, to help them to do so.”

Prof. Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy at the University of Stirling and CRUK/BUPA Chair in Cancer Prevention at Cancer Research UK, said:

“These data are important because they show the impact of e-cigarette use at a population level. People often say we need more randomised controlled trials to show whether e-cigarettes help people stop smoking, but so far only two have been published. More are underway but these types of studies are expensive and lengthy to complete. In the meantime people are using e-cigarettes so it is very useful to observe what happens when they do, as the Smoking Toolkit Study does.

“It suggests many people are using e-cigarettes rather than other available options to stop smoking, and for a significant number they are working. This is particularly interesting at a time in the UK when other parts of tobacco control are poorly resourced – we have almost no media campaigns to prompt people to try and quit, for instance, and stop smoking services are under threat. Despite this, smoking rates continue to fall. The British public have voted with their feet and are choosing to use e-cigarettes. This is a positive choice and we should promote it.”

Prof. Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, said:

“E-cigarettes are good news for smokers and for public health. The findings of this new study tally with provisional results of the latest Opinion and Lifestyle Survey which estimates that in England, there are now some 800,000 people who successfully switched from smoking to vaping and another 640,000 who used to smoke and vape and now stopped both.”

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“Nearly one in five adults in the UK smoke, significantly increasing their risk of coronary heart disease. Stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to improve your heart health, and we know that more and more people are turning to e-cigarettes to quit. What’s reassuring is this study suggests that rather than undermining people’s efforts, using e-cigarettes improves the likelihood of someone quitting.

“However, we need to assess the potential long-term effects of these devices which is why the BHF is funding research to find out whether or not they are as safe as people think. In the meantime the most effective way to stop smoking is to use the NHS Stop Smoking Service or visit our website for helpful advice.”