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E-cigarettes 60% more effective than patches or gum, research claims

Smokers trying to quit without any professional help are 60% more likely to succeed when opting for electronic cigarettes over other non-prescription nicotine replacement products, research has suggested.

A study of 5,863 smokers, surveyed between 2009 and 2014, found that 20% of those using e-cigarettes managed to stop smoking conventional cigarettes. This represented a 60% higher success rate than among those using other non-prescription nicotine replacements such as gum or patches, or who were relying on willpower alone, according to the findings published in the journal Addiction.

Lead report author Professor Robert West, professor of health psychology and director of tobacco studies at University College London, said: ‘E-cigarettes could substantially improve public health because of their widespread appeal and the huge health gains associated with stopping smoking.’

But he added that e-cigarette use should not be viewed as a replacement to smoking cessation services offered by the NHS, as these have a much higher success rate.

He said: ‘However, we should also recognise that the strongest evidence remains for use of the NHS stop-smoking services. These almost triple a smoker’s odds of successfully quitting compared with going it alone or relying on over-the-counter products.’

The authors also warned that despite the benefit of e-cigarettes, due to be licensed as medicines by the MHRA in 2016, the long-term risks of the devices were yet to be established. However existing evidence suggested that any risks were minimal and the harm will certainly be less than conventional smoking, the authors concluded.

Last year, the first study to compare the effectiveness of e-cigarettes versus nicotine patches found they were ‘as effective’.

Readers' comments (3)

  • I quit 2 years ago with an electronic cigarette. I don't recommend to my patients and always send them to the smoking cessation service. But more and more people are coming in and asking if they should try them. I've had a spirometry and have normal results which is surprising to say how long I smoked. It will be interesting to see what happens when they become licenced.

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  • Vinci Ho

    The only problem I have with e-cigarette is people are using it as a substitute rather than a smoking cessation therapy, i.e. You go on it permanently rather than having a fixed time period for eventual abstinence, for instance , a therapy period of 13 weeks like NRT or oral therapy.

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  • I do not question the fact that e-cigs are safer alternatives to smoking; but comparing them with Nicotine Replacement Therapy and saying that they are better worries me. Smoking cessation therapy is about changing the behaviour and dependency on smoking and ending addictions. NRTs were designed and licensed for such purposes E cigs were not; and till date it remains unlicensed and unregulated...many who have used E-cigs did not really set out with a goal in mind to put a permanent end to their depencey on smoking but rather as an alternative or substitute. Let us becareful how we promote this device and try to evidence it. When it has recieved a medicine license then it is justifiable to compare it with other licensed medications.

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