E-cigarettes 'much better for quitting smoking'

George Till

Anti-smoking advocates: Florida needs to do more to reduce tobacco use

If you've tried to quit smoking with gums and patches and haven't had much luck, new research shows you might want to try e-cigarettes instead. E-cigarettes, however, "provided greater satisfaction and were rated as more helpful to refrain from smoking than nicotine-replacement products", the study's authors wrote.

There are an estimated 480,000 lives lost nationwide each year, and the American Lung Association states that close to 95 percent of smokers tried their first cigarette before the age of 21. That was a reversal of a hands-off approach to e-cigarettes Gottlieb took in 2017 that was followed by a 75 percent rise between 2017 and 2018 in use of e-cigarettes by children and teens.

"By removing cigarette users at the beginning, this design may overlook youth who started with e-cigarettes and already made the transition to cigarette smoking", she said.

Under Florida law, smoking is not allowed inside most businesses and restaurants, and state voters took the first step to eliminate secondhand e-cigarette emissions by approving an amendment previous year to ban vaping and e-cigarette use indoors.

Juul is one of the most popular e-cigarette companies, and many University of OR students said that it's nearly impossible to escape the Juul epidemic on campus because they see them everywhere.

Just nine percent of those who had quit cigarettes for a year in the nicotine replacement group were still using patches, gum or other substitutes.

"Although a large number of smokers report that they have quit smoking successfully with the help of e-cigarettes, health professionals have been reluctant to recommend their use because of the lack of clear evidence from randomised controlled trials".

E-cigarettes are nearly twice as effective as nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) for smoking cessation when both are accompanied by behavioural support, according to a study from researchers at Queen Mary University of London. Additionally, some e-cigarettes have been found to contain unsafe metals like lead that could increase a person's risk of heart attack.

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"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".

The main outcome of interest was sustained non-smoking after 1 year after quit date, based on self-report of having smoked no more than 5 cigarettes from 2 weeks after the quit date, backed up by carbon monoxide results.

All participants were also tested to see if they were still smoking tobacco cigarettes, and had weekly one-to-one support for at least four weeks.

The British government provided funding for the study as it looks to use vaping as a tool to help smokers quit, the news outlet said. We don't know whether the chemicals in e-cigarettes, particularly the flavourings, may have long-term harms that have not yet come to light. The other thing it does is show that the magnitude of risk is even higher for those at low risk for using cigarettes.

But Jordt noted that newer devices like the Juul pod have only recently arrived in the UK. The researchers said one reason e-cigarettes were found to be more effective may be that they allow for better tuning of nicotine doses to individual needs.

Another concern Jordt has about e-cigarettes is that many users will simply never stop using them.

"We need more studies about their safety profile, and I don't think anyone should be changing practice based on one study", said Belinda Borrelli, a psychologist specializing in smoking cessation at Boston University.

Myers' group is one of several anti-smoking organizations suing the FDA to immediately begin reviewing e-cigarettes.

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