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The Effectiveness of Electronic Cigarettes as a Quit Smoking Product

Posted September 2nd, 2013 in News by Steve

Despite increasing regulation of electronic cigarettes and even calls to ban them in the United States and numerous European countries, their popularity continues to grow. In the United Kingdom alone, it is estimated that there are 1.3 million electronic cigarette users.

The electronic cigarette – which is also known as the e-cigarette or electric cigarette – is a battery operated device that is similar in appearance to a normal tobacco cigarette and is used to quit smoking. Instead of smoke, it produces a vapour that is inhaled and exhaled in a similar manner to tobacco smoke. The vapour is composed of vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol and food flavour. The contemporary incarnation of the device – it was invented in 1963 but never mass produced – was developed in China in 2003 by a pharmacist whose father died of lung cancer.

Partly because of its relative newness, there is limited scientific research into the effectiveness of the e-cigarette as a quit smoking product. Some research, however, has been undertaken. One such piece is that conducted by researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health in 2010 and published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine the following year (Michael B. Siegel, Kerry L. Tanwar & Kathleen S. Wood (2011) Electronic cigarettes as a smoking-cessation tool: Results from an online survey, American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 40(4), 472-475). It was found that 31 per cent of survey respondents stated that they had successfully stopped smoking for a six month period with the assistance of the e-cigarette, a figure that is significantly higher than the quitting rate for more traditional nicotine replacement therapies such as gums, lozenges, patches and puffers, which have a success rate of between 12 and 18 per cent.

More recent research conducted at the University of East London found that 86 per cent of participants had not smoked cigarettes from several weeks or months as a result of using the electric cigarette. Three-quarters of the subjects reported that they used the e-cigarette to quit smoking, whereas 22 per cent said that they started using the device for different reasons, such as to get around smoking prohibitions in clubs, pubs and restaurants. The research was published in the journal Addiction (Lynne Dawkins, John Turner, Amanda Roberts & Kirstie Soar (2013) ‘Vaping’ profiles and preferences: An online survey of electronic cigarette users, Addiction, 108(6) 1115-1125).

Scientific research, as well as anecdotal evidence from the tens of thousands of people who have quit smoking with the aid of the electric cigarette, suggest that it might be the most effective quit smoking product available on the market.

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