Yet, sadly, polls show that of the 37.8 million adults in the United States who now smoke, roughly 65 percent think e-cigarettes are just as harmful as smoking traditional cigarettes. The finding that e-cigarettes are nearly twice as effective as NRTs is similar to the results of a survey that health psychologist Robert West and his colleagues conducted several years ago.
The study, funded by The National Institute for Health Research and supported by Cancer Research UK, was published in The New England Journal of Medicine (citation below). A new study says vaping may be best for quitting cigarettes, but it is still a health risk.
Cigarette use at wave 3 was higher among prior e-cigarette users (20.5%) compared with youths with no prior tobacco use (3.8%).
In the trial, 886 smokers were randomly divided into groups to receive either up to three months' supply of nicotine replacement products such as patches, gum, lozenges and sprays, or an e-cigarette starter pack with one or two bottles of liquid and encouragement to buy their own choice of future supplies. By the 52nd week, 18 per cent of the e-cigarette group was still off cigarettes, compared to 9.9 per cent of the standard treatment group.
'It provides the clearest indication yet that e-cigarettes are probably more effective than products such as nicotine gum and patches'. After all, vaping isn't a cure for a disease, but rather a less risky consumption choice that competes with cigarettes.
"Yet, instead of an official statement or press release about this new United Kingdom study (none appear on the FDA website) or any statement about how adult smokers need to switch to safer e-cigarettes, Gottlieb offered a milquetoast tweet (emphasis mine) saying the FDA is "...committed to the promise that e-cigs can help now addicted adult smokers quit; and improve their health by doing so..." adding that the agency's "urgent concerns are kids use of these products, and how to arrest it without substantially impeding adults".
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"This is now likely to change".
In fact, "doctors should encourage any smokers to try e-cigarettes", Przulj suggested, "especially if they have tried other methods before and these have not been helpful".
At the same time, there have been conflicting studies on whether e-cigarettes actually help smokers kick the habit.
It is the first study of its kind to assess the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping smokers quit.
Added Weaver: "The results of this study indicate that under these conditions, e-cigarettes improved the likelihood of quitting smoking". The e-cigarette users were also more likely to cut down their smoking by 50 per cent or more, even if they didn't quit entirely. Those devices have largely been overtaken in the U.S.by Juul and similar devices that have prefilled nicotine cartridges, or pods.
Because the PATH study data was observational, the researchers admitted their analysis is unable to "establish causal relations or rule out the possibility of residual confounding by underlying risk-taking propensities".
But he added: 'Given that ecigs may cause some harm when used over many years I would encourage users to think of them as a stop-gap, but they are far better than smoking - ex-smokers should not stop using them if they are anxious they may go back to cigarettes'.
Myers' group is one of several anti-smoking organizations suing the FDA to immediately begin reviewing e-cigarettes. "And there is also the 'cool factor, '" he said.