E-Cigarette Reviews and Rankings

New Study Shows That Vaping Is More Effective Than Counseling for Smoking Cessation

It’s rare that we see positive studies on vaping these days, let alone ones that show how effective electronic cigarettes are compared to classic smoking cessation methods. And yet one just came out this week!

In a clinical trial presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session Together with World Congress of Cardiology (ACC.20/WCC), a team of researchers showed that cigarette smokers who received counselling and used nicotine-containing e-cigarettes were more than twice as likely to kick the habit compared to those who received only smoking cessation counseling.

For this clinical trial researchers recruited 376 participants at 17 sites in Canada. The average age of the participants was 53, they had smoked for an average of 35 years, and smoked an average of 21 cigarettes per day, at the beginning of the study. It’s fair to say that these were seasoned smokers, but all of them were motivated to quit and 91 percent of them had actually attempted to quit smoking at some point, but failed. The vast majority had tried smoking cessation medication and behavioral therapy, without success.

A third of participants was assigned electronic cigarettes with nicotine-containing e-liquid, another third was given electronic cigarettes without any nicotine, and the remaining third only received about 100 minutes of counseling over the course of the 12 weeks of the trial. All participants reported their progress via three telephone calls and two clinic visits.

During clinic visits, participant underwent a breath test for carbon monoxide, to see whether they had smoked. Those who reported not smoking even a single cigarette puff at the end of the 12 weeks and also passed the breath test were counted as having successfully quit smoking. For those that hadn’t quit completely, researchers considered whether they had at least reduced their daily number of tobacco cigarettes compared to the beginning of the trial.

After analyzing the collected data, researchers found that, after 12 weeks, 21.9% of the participants that had been given nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes had managed to quit smoking, compared to 17.3% of participants given non-nicotine e-cigarettes, and only 9.1% of those participants who had only relied on counseling.

“These findings show that nicotine e-cigarettes are effective for smoking cessation in the short term,” said lead author Mark J. Eisenberg, a cardiologist at the Jewish General Hospital, professor of medicine at McGill University. “Vaping with counseling is more effective than counseling alone, although it’s not a magic bullet for smoking cessation.”

Those participants given nicotine-containing cigarettes who hadn’t managed to completely quit smoking after 12 weeks were found to have at least reduced their daily tobacco cigarette intake from 21 cigarettes per day to an average of 8. In comparison, users of non-nicotine electronic cigarettes reduced their daily cigarette consumption by 11, while those that only received counseling reduced cigarette intake by 7.

In terms of adverse effects, researchers only mentioned one case of a user of nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes who reported an exacerbation of his existing COPD, although it’s unclear whether the flareup was attributable to vaping. Still, Eisenberg emphasized the need for more research on the safety of electronic cigarettes.

One of the main shortcomings of this clinical trial is its short scope. 12 weeks without smoking a single tobacco cigarette is a promising start, but as any smoker or former smoker will tell you, relapsing even after months of abstinence is not uncommon. Short-term results are good, but we need long-term data on the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a quit smoking aid. And these researchers want to give us just that.

Eisenberg and his team will continue to collect data for one year, with the last follow-up scheduled for September 2020. It will be interesting to see how the results change until then. So far, though, even the researchers are impressed by how well electronic cigarettes performed, considering that the 376 participants were all veteran smokers, and had used tobacco cigarettes for many years.

“While these are not clinical outcomes like death or lung cancer rates, the results are still quite impressive,” Mark J. Eisenberg admitted.

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