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New Study Finds That Consistent E-Cigarette Use Can Help Smokers Quit

There has been a lot of debate surrounding the efficacy of e-cigarettes as tools for smoking cessation, with some studies showing that it is at least as effective as other quit smoking aids like nicotine patches and gum, and others finding that it has absolutely no effect. Now, a comprehensive research from the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University claims that the efficacy of electronic cigarettes in smoking cessation largely depends on the frequency of use.

SMOK-GX24-ergonomicThis study, published at the end of August, is significantly different from other research on e-cigarettes and smoking cessation. First of all, it is based on data from the 2014 – 2105 Tobacco Use Supplement of the U.S. Current Population Survey, a National Cancer Institute-sponsored survey conducted every three to four years. It included 150,000 respondents, 23,633 of whom were smokers, making it a large-scale survey representative of the whole United States.

But, most importantly, this study looks at the intensity of e-cigarette use in relation to smoking cessation, instead of simply counting ever-users – respondents who only vape once in a while – the same as regular vapers. In fact, researchers at the Comprehensive Cancer Center admit that the connection between vaping frequency and successful quit-smoking attempts was one of the most significant finds.

“Results revealed that greater frequency of e-cigarette use beyond ever use – using one at least once – and especially with 20 or more days of use in the past month was strongly associated with both having made a quit attempt and a greater likelihood of three months or more of cigarette smoking cessation,” study author, David T. Levy, PhD, and his colleagues, wrote. “The consistency of positive associations with quit attempts or cessation success suggests that more frequent e-cigarette use may be effective as a smoking cessation aid.”

Interestingly, the study used the same data as other research that found less evidence for e-cigarettes as efficient smoking cessation tools, only Dr. Levy and his team focused more on analysing responses related to how often people used electronic cigarettes. They found that ever-users, those who only vaped every once in a while, were less likely to successfully quit smoking tobacco, while the success rate of those who used them more frequently went up the longer they used them.

Researchers concluded that each additional day of e-cigarette use increased the odds of successfully quitting by about 5%. Using e-cigarettes for at least five days a month increased the chances of quitting smoking by 59%, while using them for 20 days in a month doubled those odds.

To reach these conclusions, researchers also took into consideration a series of factors that could influence people’s success rates, such as the price of cigarettes and the laws in their state, how much they smoked, income, educational level, and whether they lived in an urban or rural environment.

“Our findings are consistent with randomized trials and those observational studies that measure frequency of e-cigarette use. These results support the use of e-cigarettes – especially, consistent use – as an effective smoking cessation aid,” Dr. Levy and his team said. “Since e-cigarettes are generally estimated to have a small proportion of the mortality risks of cigarettes, this represents an important life-saving intervention that doctors can recommend when other forms of treatment fail.”

Researchers also mentioned that the efficacy of modern electronic cigarettes in helping smokers quit could be even greater today. E-cigarettes have come a long way in the last couple of years, and are becoming cleaner and better at delivering nicotine every day, which only makes them better smoking cessation aids.

“They could be cleaner, lower risk, get nicotine to those addicted more efficiently, can better satisfy nicotine cravings,” Levy said. “We’re already talking about the third generation of e-cigarettes… If we just go by the first five years, a lot is likely to change.”

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