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Vaping “Twice As Effective” As Nicotine Replacement Therapy for Quitting Smoking, English Study Finds

According to the results of a year-long, randomized control trial carried out in England, electronic cigarettes are almost twice as likely to help smokers quit as conventional nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine patches, gum or sprays.

The trial was conducted in Britain and funded by the National Institute for Health Research and Cancer Research UK. For a one-year period 886 adult smokers who had sought assistance through the UK’s National Health System (NHS) to quit were randomly assigned to one of two groups – one that used nicotine replacement therapies (NRT), and the other electronic cigarettes. None of the study participants expressed any strong preference for either of the two cessation methods.

People in the NRT group were advised to use use combinations of short-acting and long-acting nicotine products, and were offered supplies of their chosen products for a period of three months, while those in the e-cigarette group were provided with a refillable e-cigarette starter kit and a bottle of nicotine-containing e-liquid, and advised to then buy e-liquid refill themselves, so they could use their desired flavors and nicotine strengths. Both groups were also offered weekly support with local doctors for the first four weeks of the trial. During their visits, the carbon monoxide levels in their breath was also measured to monitor tobacco smoke intake.

During the year-long trial, researchers from Queen Mary University of London, Kings College London, London South Bank University, the University of York, Leicester City Council, and Roswel Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in the US collected information from participants about their use of assigned products, side effects of using these products, cigarette use, withdrawal symptoms an potential respiratory issues.

At the end of the trial period, participants from both groups who said they had stopped smoking were asked to take carbon monoxide breath test to confirm their claim. Participants who did not respond to follow up calls and scheduled carbon monoxide monitoring tests throughout the year-long trial were classed as still smoking.

The main goal interest of this study was to measure sustained non-smoking at one year after the quit date, between the two groups. Smoking cessation was defined as having smoked no more than 5 cigarettes from 2 weeks after the quit date, which was confirmed by carbon monoxide measuring.

After analyzing the data collected during the year-long trial, researchers concluded that 18% of people who had been assigned e-cigarettes had managed to reach e the goal of , while only 9.9% of the participants in the nicotine replacement therapies group had given up tobacco cigarettes. Neither result was particularly impressive, but that’s not particularly surprising considering how notoriously hard quitting smoking for long periods of time can be. Still, the results showed that e-cigarettes seem to be almost twice as effective as conventional nicotine therapies.

Researchers also found that 80% of those who had managed to quit with electronic cigarettes were still using them, whereas only 9% of the people who had managed to quit with NRT were still using them. Although ongoing vaping among the ex-smokers could be seen as a bad thing, as long-term effects of e-cigarette use are still unknown (estimated to be less than 5 per cent of the risk of smoking), the study authors claim that it could also be a positive thing, Just as continued NRT use has been shown to prevent some ex-smokers from relapsing, so could e-cigarettes.

Among trial participants who did not manage to successfully quit smoking, there were some in both groups who has still managed to cut their tobacco cigarette intake to under 50%, but there were significantly more of them in the e-cigarette group (13 per cent compared to 7 per cent).

It’s also important to note that the study found no evidence of harm from e-cigarettes during the 1 year period. Although the effects of long-term damage from chemicals in e-cigarette vapor, like flavorings, are still unknown, several scientific reviews of current evidence have estimated vaping to be 95% safer than smoking tobacco.

“This important study provides the first concrete evidence that, among people wanting to give up smoking, e-cigarettes may be a more effective treatment than NRT products, when both are combined with clinical support,” the NHS website states.

This is a seminal study, it is so important for the field,” Dr. Neal L. Benowitz, chief of clinical pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco, an expert in nicotine absorption and tobacco-related illnesses, told the New York Times.

Prof. Peter Hajek, lead author of the study, expressed hope that the results of this research will change physicians’ perception of vaping.

“Although a large number of smokers report that they have quit smoking successfully with the help of e-cigarettes, health professionals have been reluctant to recommend their use because of the lack of clear evidence from randomised controlled trials. This is likely to change,” Hajek said.

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