Many smokers successfully left the transition to e-cigarettes, but doctors can not recommend this treatment without good evidence from clinical trials. Now they have this evidence. Our latest study confirms that e-cigarettes are a really effective way to help smoke.
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 900 smokers who tried to leave were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group received nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) – mostly a combination of nicotine patches with shorter duration drugs such as nicotine-containing chewing gum, inhaler or oral spray. The second group received a reusable e-cigarette with one or two e-liquid bottles and taught how to use the device. They were then encouraged to buy additional supplies of their choice, with nicotine powers and flavors they liked. Both groups also received weekly support face-to-face for at least the first four weeks of the study.
When heavy smokers try to leave, they often feel miserable for a while, struggling with the desire to smoke, irritability and low mood. The group using an electronic cigarette recorded fewer of these symptoms than the NRT group. They also found e-cigarettes much more useful and satisfying, even though they did not find e-cigarettes or NRTs as satisfying as cigarettes.
Vaperes retained their early advantage during the study. By the end of the year, nearly twice as many people in the e-cigarette group had abstained throughout the year compared to the NRT group (18% versus 10%).
At the beginning of the study, both groups used their treatments almost every day. Over time, however, a strong difference has emerged. Approximately 40% of smokers in the e-cigarette group were still trained for one year, whereas only 4% of the NRT group still used their nicotine replacement product. Among those who did not smoke in one year, the share of electronic cigarettes was 80%, and 9% was NRT.
For smokers who failed to quit, several groups appeared in both study groups that reduced smoke by at least 50%, but in the e-cigarette group it was significantly more (13% vs. 7%).
However, continuing the accumulation of long-term abstinence could be considered a bad thing if you use electronic cigarettes for one year, leading to a lot of years of going on, and if it causes health problems. Although long-term health hazards are estimated at less than 5% of the risk of smoking (in one gold standard study that examines more than two years of use of an electronic cigarette) no health hazards from smoking have been identified, they could pose a risk that can be avoided.
But the fact that many of the heavy smokers in our study who stopped smoking were perceived as a good thing. Dependent smokers who have left NRT and have long-term use of these products are known to reduce the risk of relapse and therefore widespread use of e-cigarettes could also reduce the risk of relapse. Also, ongoing training protects these heavy smokers from the usual side effects of cessation such as irritation and weight gain. And a problem that is rarely discussed is that some smokers actually use smoking and slow to help them enjoy this enjoyment.
These former smokers, of course, continue to use nicotine as they do it, but it does not have the major negative health effects of cigarettes. Health risks of smoking are mainly from combustion chemicals released from burning tobacco. People who use non-combustion nicotine, such as users of Swedish snus and short-term or long-term users of nicotine replacement products, do not seem to have a negative health effect while smoking causes premature death in approximately half of middle-aged chickens.
We continue to monitor the participants in the evaluation and finally we have data on how long the long-term scientists have and how it affects their health and relapse. Doctors in the meantime can tell the smoke that there is good evidence that they can help.