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E-cigarettes help more people quit for good, according to researchers
The use of e-cigarettes – colloquially known as ‘vaping’ – are helping more people to successfully quit tobacco in the long-term, according to two new studies.
The first – an observational study published in the British Medical Journal, examined trends in smoking cessation and available support in England from 2006 to 2015, and found that while the introduction of e-cigarettes did not appear to impact on numbers of smokers wanting to quit, the numbers of people who have stopped using tobacco successfully has increased.
The study authors, including experts from Cancer Research UK and University College London, found that up to 18,000 people in England had successfully stopped smoking in 2015 with the help of e-cigarettes.
The second study, a review of the most-up-to-date evidence published in the Cochrane Database, concludes that the use of electronic cigarettes which contain nicotine are an effective aid in helping smokers quit using tobacco in the long-term.
Professor Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London, says of the studies: “We increasingly know or hear of people who say that electronic cigarettes helped them to stop smoking. These two new publications, using very different designs, provide objective evidence for this.
“The BMJ study found that successful quit attempts increased over the period of time that electronic cigarettes became popular. The Cochrane study included an analysis of two of the most robustly designed studies and found that electronic cigarettes with nicotine helped smokers to stop.
“In my view, smokers struggling to stop should try all possible methods, including electronic cigarettes, to help them to do so.”
E-cigarettes a popular choice
E-cigarettes have become increasingly popular since their introduction in 2007 – the same year the ban on smoking in enclosed public places came into force in England as a consequence of the Health Act of 2006 legislation. More recently, e-cigarettes have overtaken other nicotine substitutes, such as gum or patches, to become the most popular aid in helping people to stop smoking. According to the most recent estimates, there are now three million users of e-cigarettes in the UK, who use vaping to help them cut down on tobacco or have already quit altogether.
But some critics still have reservations regarding the safety of e-cigarettes in the long-term.
“Potential long-term effects” currently being assessed
Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, says: “Nearly one in five adults in the UK smoke, significantly increasing their risk of coronary heart disease. Stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to improve your heart health, and we know that more and more people are turning to e-cigarettes to quit. What’s reassuring is this study suggests that rather than undermining people’s efforts, using e-cigarettes improves the likelihood of someone quitting.
“However, we need to assess the potential long-term effects of these devices which is why the BHF is funding research to find out whether or not they are as safe as people think.”
An independent review commissioned by Public Health England, which published its findings earlier this year, found that e-cigarettes – while not risk-free – were around 95% less harmful to health than tobacco.
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