Nicotine vaping is the most effective among widely available smoking cessation aids, researchers have declared.
Cytisine and varenicline are also among the most effective tools to help people stop smoking, although these are not widely available, say researchers.
Combination nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) – for example combining a patch with gum – were almost nearly as good, the UK and US team of Cochrane reviewers found.
More than 300 randomised controlled trials with more than 150,000 people, were included in the analysis which found 14 in 100 people trying to stop smoking were likely to succeed using a nicotine e-cigarette, varenicline or cytisine, in any given quit attempt.
For those using two forms of NRT, around 12 of 100 would likely quit smoking, defined as no cigarettes for at least six months, they found.
The successful quit rate fell to around nine in 100 for those using only one form of NRT, such as a patch or gum, they reported in Cochrane Reviews.
By contrast the evidence suggests six in 100 people would be successful if they tried to stop without using any quit aids.
There were no serious side effects for any of the options used in the randomised controlled trials they included, they reported, but data on this was also sparse.
Cytisine is not currently licensed or marketed in countries outside of Central and Eastern Europe, they noted.
The data provides strong evidence to help reshape public health policies and strategies, to offer smokers the most effective tools to help them quit, they concluded.
Earlier this year, the Government announced that one million smokers in England will be encouraged to swap cigarettes for vaping using a free ‘vape starter kit’.
It comes amidst reports that the Government is considering banning disposable vapes over concerns that children are becoming addicted.
The Telegraph reported that proposals may be put out for consultation as next week after ministers decided that the single-use vapes are overwhelmingly targeted at the under-18s being sold in bright colours and with attractive flavours.
Nicola Lindson, lead author and a senior researcher at Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, said: ‘By pulling together this data, we can see that when people use the medicines licensed for quitting smoking or nicotine e-cigarettes, they are more likely to quit than if they do not use these aids.’
Co-author Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, assistant professor of health policy and management at University of Massachusetts Amherst added: ‘Our findings provide clear evidence of the effectiveness of nicotine e-cigarettes and combination nicotine replacement therapies to help people quit smoking.
‘The evidence also is clear on the benefits of medicines cytisine and varenicline, but these may be harder for some people to access at the moment.’
Professor Caitlin Notley, professor of addiction sciences at Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, said: ‘This network meta-analysis shows that e cigarettes, varenicline and cytisine are all effective smoking cessation aids.
‘Twice as many people managed to quit smoking using one of these aids compared to control conditions.
‘As varenicline is not currently available in the UK on prescription, and cytisine is not widely available, e-cigarettes are an easily accessible and effective intervention to help people who smoke to quit tobacco completely.’