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Independents' Day

E-cigarettes 'no more effective than nicotine patches'

Smokers using e-cigarettes to quit are no more likely to be successful in the long term than those using nicotine patches, a study has claimed.

E-cigarette smokers were also more likely to suffer side effects, such as dry cough and throat irritation.

The meta-analysis, which looked at four existing studies into e-cigarette effect on smoking cessation and 18 into their clinical safety, concluded that until more research was available smokers should continue to be advised to use cessation aids that are backed up by more evidence.

The team of researchers, from the University of Toronto, found that e-cigarettes improved abstinence from smoking at one month but the effect lost at three and six months.

The only study that looked at continuous abstinence, rather than specific follow-up times, found no difference in the abstinence rates between e-cigarette users and people given e-cigarette placebos or open-label nicotine patches, however e-cigarettes were associated with twice the risk of serious adverse events as patches..

Lead author Dr Riyad al-Lehebi said: ‘Although e-cigarettes are widely promoted and used as a smoking cessation tool, we found no data supporting their long-term efficacy and safety.

‘Given the potential health risks of using these unproven and unregulated devices, individuals seeking help with smoking cessation should consider other more well-established options until more research is performed.’

NICE currently does not recommend e-cigarettes for smoking cessation but a recent NICE publication on tobacco harm reduction said GPs may advise smokers that they are likely to be less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

Recent NICE Tobacco Harm Reduction guidance says GPs should not recommend their use, but that they may advise smokers e-cigarettes are likely to be less harmful than smoking.

Other studies have concluded e-cigarettes were more effective than non-prescription smoking cessation aids and UK researchers recently said GPs should be telling smokers that e-cigarettes will help them quit.

American Thoracic Society International Conference 2015; Abstract 65842


Readers' comments (3)

  • Vinci Ho

    e-cigarette has become a substitute rather than a cessation therapy in many patients . If complete abstinence is the final endpoint we want to achieve , it does not look good with this result .
    However , if we look purely at substituting with a lesser evil , is this better than giving some of these resilient smokers NRT while they are supposed to reduce the number of cigarettes everyday ?Remember NICE has endorsed the contentious usage of NRT to just reduce number of cigarettes being smoked .......

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  • NRT is just another 'clean' drug fed into the business supply chain of the NHS. The nanny state goes on with no real financial crisis therefore.

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  • On and off I tried for years to quit using NRT but the problem was that the thing I was addicted to was the nicotine. Taking nicotine to quit nicotine was clearly not the solution but I didn't realise that until I was educated by a well known book. I read half the book a couple times but kept stopping because I was afraid it was going to make me want to quit!!! It wasn't until I really wanted to give up that I read the whole book. The first week after stopping was hard but as I was able to understand my cravings I was able to work through it and after that it was easy. I had literally been a slave to nicotine for 25 years planning practically everything around my next cigarette and then I was free.

    NRT of any kind is a waste of time and money.Anonymous | Practice Manager | 18 May 2015 8:16pm is spot on.

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