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Jun 23, 2014

E-cigarettes Can Help Smokers Quit

E-cigarettes are as effective as the patch in helping smokers quit, finds study.

E-cigarettes are as effective as the nicotine patch in helping people quit smoking, according to a study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation.

This study reviewed past clinical trials that looked at the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. Since 2004, electronic cigarettes have become increasingly popular, being marketed as a cheaper, tobacco-free alternative to conventional cigarettes. Although e-cigarettes have yet to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a smoking cessation tool, research suggests that smokers are attempting to use them to quit smoking. But are they safe?

After reviewing seven past studies, researchers found that there was no difference in the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes vs. the nicotine patch as a smoking cessation tool. These studies suggest that e-cigarettes can help smokers cut back on the number of cigarettes smoked each day and may be as effective for smoking cessation as the nicotine patch. Plus, there was no significant difference in negative side effects between using e-cigarettes and the patch.

Still, authors express serious concern about e-cigarette use in the United States. Not only is there little research on the subject, experts worry that e-cigarettes may act as a gateway to cigarette smoking. It’s also possible that e-cigarettes could undermine anti-smoking efforts that have helped combat smoking rates over the past few decades. Consequently, authors believe that additional clinical trials are urgently needed to learn more about using e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. Additional research is also needed to understand how e-cigarettes impact smoking habits, especially among teens, and national smoking rates.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What are e-cigarettes?
  • E-cigarettes (short for electronic cigarettes) are battery-operated devices that heat up liquid nicotine into a vapor, which smokers inhale and exhale. Unlike regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco. However, little is known about the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use.
  • What is the best smoking cessation aid?
  • There are a number of smoking cessation aids available to help smokers kick the habit. There are five types of nicotine replacement therapy currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including patches, inhalers, lozenges, gums and nasal sprays that can help wean smokers off of cigarettes. Certain drugs are also available to help smokers fight nicotine withdrawal and tobacco cravings. Which type of smoking cessation aid is best depends on an individual’s unique needs.

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