Electronic cigarettes hold promise as aid to quitting

February 8, 2011, Boston University Medical Center

A study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers reports that electronic cigarettes are a promising tool to help smokers quit, producing six-month abstinence rates nearly double those for traditional nicotine replacement products.

In a study published online ahead of print in the , researchers found that 31 percent of respondents reported having quit six months after first purchasing an electronic cigarette, a battery-powered device providing tobacco-less doses of nicotine in a vaporized solution. The average six-month abstinence rate for traditional nicotine replacement products, such as or gum, is between 12 and 18 percent.

"This study suggests that electronic cigarettes are helping thousands of ex-smokers remain off cigarettes," said lead author Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences.

The researchers conducted an online survey of 222 first-time purchasers of electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, from a leading electronic cigarette distributor. Of those who were not smoking at six months, 34.3 percent reported not using electronic cigarettes or any nicotine-containing products. Almost 67 percent of respondents reported having reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked after using electronic cigarettes.

The study's main limitation is the low response rate of 4.5 percent. It is possible that those who responded to the survey were more likely to have quit smoking than those who did not respond. Nevertheless, despite this limitation, the study authors believe that this is the best evidence to date on the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation.

They point out that this is the first survey that relied upon an unbiased sampling frame.

Despite the limitation, the authors conclude that electronic cigarettes "hold promise as a smoking-cessation method and that they are worthy of further study using more rigorous research designs."

While more study needs to be done on the actual mechanisms of what apparently makes electronic cigarettes effective, Siegel said he believes there might be a link between the e-cigarette's physical simulation of smoking with the success of quitting.

"While it is well-recognized that plays a role in smoking addiction, little attention has been given to the behavioral aspects of the addiction," he said. "These devices simulate the smoking experience, which appears to make them effective as a smoking cessation tool."

Electronic cigarettes have proven controversial since coming onto the market more than three years ago. A number of anti-smoking groups have argued that e-cigarettes should not be sold because they have not been shown to be effective for , and several states – including New York – are considering banning e-cigarettes altogether.

"Banning this product would invariably result in many ex-smokers returning to cigarette smoking," Siegel said. "Removing from the market would substantially harm the public's health."

The study was co-authored by Kerry L. Tanwar and Kathleen S. Wood, also of Boston University School of Public Health.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.