-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Electronic cigarettes and
nicotine patches are equally effective at helping smokers quit,
according to findings from what's thought to be the first clinical
trial to compare the two methods.
However, e-cigarettes were more effective in reducing cigarette
use among smokers who didn't quit.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine,
flavorings and other chemicals. They turn these substances into
vapor that is inhaled by the user.
The new study included 657 smokers who used either e-cigarettes,
fake e-cigarettes (they didn't contain any nicotine) or nicotine
patches for 13 weeks. At the end of the six-month study, about 6
percent of the participants had successfully quit.
Rates of those who successfully quit were 7.3 percent in the
e-cigarette group, 5.8 percent in the nicotine patch group and 4.1
percent in the fake e-cigarette group.
These differences were not statistically significant, according
to study leader Chris Bullen, director of the National Institute
for Health Innovation at the University of Auckland in New Zealand,
The findings suggest that e-cigarettes are comparable to
nicotine patches in helping people quit smoking for at least six
Among participants who did not quit smoking, 57 percent of those
in the e-cigarette group had reduced their daily consumption of
cigarettes by at least half after six months, compared with 41
percent of those in the nicotine patch group, according to the
study published online Sept. 7 in
The Lancetand presented at the annual meeting of the
European Respiratory Society, held in Barcelona, Spain.
About 90 percent of those who used e-cigarettes -- including the
fake version -- would recommend them to family and friends,
compared with 56 percent of those in the nicotine patch group, the
researchers said. They also concluded that e-cigarettes are
comparable to nicotine patches in terms of safety.
"While our results don't show any clear-cut differences between e-cigarettes and patches in terms of quit success after six months, it certainly seems that e-cigarettes were more effective in helping smokers who didn't quit to cut down," Bullen said in a journal news release.
"It's also interesting that the people who took part in our study seemed to be much more enthusiastic about e-cigarettes than patches, as evidenced by the far greater proportion of people in both of the e-cigarette groups who said they'd recommend them to family or friends, compared to patches," he added.
Bullen continued: "There is still so much that is unknown about
the effectiveness and long-term effects of e-cigarettes. Given the
increasing popularity of these devices in many countries, and the
accompanying regulatory uncertainty and inconsistency, larger,
longer-term trials are urgently needed to establish whether these
devices might be able to fulfill their potential as effective and
popular smoking cessation aids."
This is a "pioneering study" that suggests e-cigarettes have the
potential to increase the number of smokers who quit and to reduce
costs to quitters and health care systems, Peter Hajek, a professor
and director of the tobacco dependence research unit in the Wolfson
Institute of Preventive Medicine at Queen Mary University of
London, wrote in an accompanying journal commentary.
The American Cancer Society offers a
guide to quitting smoking.
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