Using e-cigarettes May Help Smokers Quit Regular Cigarettes

The study providing critical population-level evidence demonstrating; that using e-cigarettes daily helps U.S. smokers to quit smoking combustible (i.e. regular) cigarettes. The first longitudinal data about the effectiveness of e-cigarettes for cessation from a survey that is representative of the U.S. population.

As the MGH team analyzed data from the first three years of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study; a survey representative of the U.S. adult population that interviews the same individuals each year. The survey allowed the researchers to measure an individual’s change in tobacco use over time.

The e-cigarettes smokers

Using data from more than 8,000 adult smokers, the investigators measured how likely a smoker was to quit smoking and stay quit, comparing daily and non daily e-cigarette users with those who smoked only regular cigarettes. This finding suggests that smokers who use e-cigarettes to quit smoking need to use them regularly every day for these products to be most helpful.

They found that smokers who used e-cigarettes every day; comparing to e-cigarette non-users; were more likely to quit combustible cigarettes within one year and to stay quit for at least another year. They also found that smokers who used e-cigarettes were no more likely to relapse back to smoking regular cigarettes than smokers not using e-cigarettes.

Smoking combustible cigarettes

As 3.6% of smokers were current daily e-cigarette users; 18% were current non daily e-cigarette users, and 78% did not use e-cigarette at all. By the second and third years of data gathering, daily e-cigarette users reported; a higher rate of prolonged abstinence from cigarette smoking (11%) than non-users.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine but do not burn tobacco; which is responsible for many of the health problems associated with smoking combustible cigarettes. For a smoker, e-cigarette are less harmful to their health than continuing to smoke cigarettes. But e-cigarette have becoming popular so quickly; that many questions remain about how they can best be using to help smokers to quit and minimize any harm.