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Belgian Study Suggests Second Generation E-Cigarettes May Help Smokers Quit

The findings of a new study evaluating the effectiveness of second generation electronic cigarettes in reducing tobacco cigarette consumption and quitting smoking suggest e-cigs work much better than traditional smoking cessation therapies.

second-generation-e-cigarettesBelgian scientists from the universities of Leuven and Antwerp recently set out to investigate the effectiveness of second generation electronic cigarettes as quit-smoking aids by doing a randomized control trial. A number of 48 smokers unwilling to quit were randomized into two e-cigarette groups and one control group. During three lab sessions (over a period of two months) participants who had refrained from smoking for four hours were allowed to smoke/vape for five minutes, after which researchers monitored the effect on craving and withdrawal symptoms, and measured eCO (end-tidal carbon monoxide) and saliva cotinine levels. In between lab sessions, test-subjects in the two e-cigarette were allowed to smoke and vape freely, while those in the control group could only smoke. After the third and last lab session, the control group was also given electronic cigarettes.

To better understand and evaluate the effect of ad-libitum electronic cigarette use on tobacco smoking, participants were asked to fill in a series of questionnaires related to their experience, including benefits and complaints, up to six months after the last lab session. The recently published findings of this study show that from the first lab session on, electronic cigarette use after four hours of abstinence led to a reduction of cigarette craving of the same magnitude as when a tobacco cigarette was smoked.

After two months, scientists observed that 34% of participants in the two e-cigarette groups had stopped smoking tobacco, compared to 0% of the control group which couldn’t use electronic cigarettes. At the five-month mark, the e-cig groups had a quit rate of 37%, while in the control group, 38% of test subjects had quit smoking just three months after being given electronic cigarettes. At the end of the eight-month study, researchers found that 19% of the e-cig groups and 25% of the control group were totally abstinent from smoking. An overall reduction of 60% in the number of tobacco cigarettes smoked per day was also reported.

Whereas cotinine levels remained unchanged in all three groups at each moment of measurement, eCO levels decreased and the benefits reported by participants far outweighed their complaints.

The team of Belgian scientists led by Professor Frank Baeyens, of the University of Leuven, concluded that “In a series of controlled lab sessions with e-cig naïve tobacco smokers, second generation e-cigs were shown to be immediately and highly effective in reducing abstinence induced cigarette craving and withdrawal symptoms, while not resulting in increases in eCO. Remarkable eight-month reductions in, or complete abstinence from tobacco smoking was achieved with the e-cig in almost half (44%) of the participants.” However, they also acknowledged that their study included a small number of participants (48) and that larger studies are needed to confirm the findings.

Belgium’s Foundation for Cancer was quick to dismiss the 44% abstinence rate at the end of the study as exaggerated, as it includes both the quit rate and the reduction of tobacco cigarettes smoked. Apparently, they believe reduced tobacco consumption provides no benefit in terms of health and life expectancy. With all due respect to the members of the foundation, many other reputed scientists and physicians would definitely disagree with that. I believe they call it tobacco harm reduction.

Source: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

via La Libre

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