A study published today in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, reveals that regulations on electronic cigarettes (ECs) may impact their effectiveness as a cessation tool. This study might help explain some of the mixed results on the effectiveness of ECs that has been published in the literature.
The authors analysed data from a longitudinal cohort survey carried out between 2010 and 2014 of over 1,700 smokers located in the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia. At the time of the surveys, the former two countries imposed few restrictions on ECs, while the latter two imposed significant regulations on the sale and use of ECs. After comparing respondents' quit attempts, cessation aids used, and how long smoking abstinence lasted between the two sets of countries, the authors found that sustained smoking abstinence with ECs was more likely in countries with less regulation on ECs. In the US and the UK, 73% of quit attempts using ECs reported sustained cigarette abstinence, compared to 32% in Canada and Australia.
The study's findings show that "the benefits of ECs for smoking cessation may be limited to those who reside in an environment where there are few restrictions on the retail sale and marketing of ECs." Dr. Hua-Hie Yong, lead author at Cancer Council Victoria, advises: "developing an appropriate regulatory framework for ECs should be a priority so that the benefits of ECs for smoking cessation can be realized. Where the regulatory environment supports it, given the popularity of ECs, smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit using current approved methods should be offered the option of using ECs as short-term aids to quit smoking or replacing smoking with ECs for harm reduction purposes."
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Hua-Hie Yong et al, Does the regulatory environment for e-cigarettes influence the effectiveness of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation?: Longitudinal findings from the ITC Four Country Survey, Nicotine & Tobacco Research (2017). DOI: 10.1093/ntr/ntx056