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Study casts doubt on effectiveness of e-cigs for smoking cessation

Science Spotlight

July 09, 2018

e-cigarette crossed over a cigarette©Shutterstock/NeydtStock

A study found no evidence that smokers who used e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) in the United States were more likely to quit smoking cigarettes than smokers who do not use these products. The study, looking at 2015-2016 data, found that 90 percent of people who used both ENDS and traditional cigarettes (dual users) were still smoking one year later. The research was conducted by researchers at the School of Public Health at Georgia State University and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Tobacco Products.

While eighty-eight percent of people who used both ENDS and traditional cigarettes (dual users) reported that quitting smoking was an “important reason” for using ENDS and forty-six percent reported they tried to “completely quit” smoking during the one-year study, only nine percent reported having quit at follow-up. More than half continued to smoke traditional cigarettes and use ENDS (dual use), and more than 37 percent were still smoking, but discontinued ENDS. The authors did find that users of ENDS were more likely to try to quit smoking than those who did not use ENDS. However, this did not translate to greater success with quitting smoking compared to smokers who did not use ENDS.    

The researchers analyzed data from a survey of 858 smokers who participated in a survey in 2015 and were re-contacted one year later. While the authors recommend further research due to the rapidly evolving ENDS markets and regulatory policies, they concluded that absent any meaningful changes in how ENDS are used by adult smokers, ENDS are unlikely to significantly increase quit rates in the U.S. population. 

For a copy of the abstract published in PLOS ONE, go to "Are electronic nicotine delivery systems helping cigarette smokers quit? Evidence from a prospective cohort study of U.S. adult smokers, 2015-2016."

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    NIDA. (2018, July 9). Study casts doubt on effectiveness of e-cigs for smoking cessation. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2018/07/study-casts-doubt-effectiveness-e-cigs-smoking-cessation

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