The efficacy of electronic cigarettes in helping smokers quit has been heavily contested in recent years, despite consistent scientific evidence that these revolutionary devices do improve users chances of kicking the dirty habit. New data collected by the UK’s University College London confirms that in 2014 alone they have helped tens of thousands of people quit cigarettes.
A study led by UCL’s Prof. Robert West and published in the Addiction journal found that 37.3 per cent of the 8.46 million adult smokers in the UK attempted to quit smoking in 2014, of which 28.2 per cent or 891,000 used electronic cigarettes to improve their chances of achieving smoking cessation. Previous research has shown that when used in this way, e-cigarettes increase the chances of success by around 50% compared with using no support or traditional nicotine products (nicotine gum, patches, etc.). Thus, West and his team estimate that vaping has increased the long-term success rate from an average of 5% to 7.5%, which translates to as many as 22,000 more people quitting every year. Because some smokers may have used e-cigs instead of a more established smoking cessation aid, like stop smoking services, the number can be adjusted to a lower total of 16,000, which is still impressive.
“E-cigarettes appear to be helping a significant number of smokers to stop who would not have done otherwise – not as many as some e-cigarette enthusiasts claim, but a substantial number nonetheless,” West said. “There have been claims by some public health researchers that e-cigarettes undermine quitting if smokers use them just to cut down, and that they act as a gateway into smoking. These claims stem from a misunderstanding of what the evidence can tell us at this stage, but this is clearly something we need to watch carefully.”
These findings were received enthusiastically by public health experts and anti-tobacco activists, but only those in the UK, because the rest were probably too busy spreading misinformation about e-cigarettes and scaring people into going back to smoking.
“From these data, it is clear that electronic cigarettes are appealing to smokers trying to stop and have helped a significant number of people in England to move away from tobacco, a product that kills one in two of its regular users,” said Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy at the University of Stirling, adding that “this consumer revolution may be saving lies”.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the anti-smoking campaign group Action on Smoking and Health, agreed, saying that the data analyzed by West et. al “shows that electronic cigarettes can save lives”.
“These are important findings that deserve wide publicity,” said Peter Hajek, director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London. “E-cigarettes have a potential to reduce smoking-related morbidity and many smokers are successful in making the switch from smoking to vaping.”
Oh, I agree completely, Prof. Hajek, but as you probably already know, the media is only interested in anti-vaping propaganda, and this certainly does not qualify. As a result, there is almost no mention of this study on mainstream news sites. The Daily Mail, for example, a site that usually jumps on anything negative related to e-cigarettes, from explosions to shady research, only mentions the findings in an article about a tax hike in the EU. Other sites didn’t even do that much.
It’s a shame, but the general public probably won’t even hear about this sort of positive findings. Instead they are bombarded with misinformation on a daily basis.