Health & Studies

A tank a day keeps smoking at bay

Some electronic cigarettes are better than others when it comes to smoking cessation according to latest findings.

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“Electronic cigarettes are increasing in popularity as an alternative to smoked tobacco products and there is growing evidence that they may be effective in helping smokers to quit,” states the ASH guide to stopping smoking. Their perspective supports traditional nicotine replacement products (NRT) despite the growing body of research evidence available into the effectiveness of ecigs and NRT. Latest findings add weight to the opinion that vaping works, although some devices perform better than others.

The advice from ASH is consistent with NHS policy on quit products but it doesn’t mention some important truths behind the NRT myth. Writing on The Conversation website in 2012, Ross MacKenzie notes: “Pharmaceutical companies have aggressively promoted nicotine replacement patches, chewing gums, inhalers and nasal sprays as effective tools to improve smokers' chances of quitting for more than 20 years. But two studies ... add to a small but growing body of evidence that smokers don’t need to resort to pharmaceuticals to quit.”

MacKenzie, a friend of the staunch "Antz" Simon Chapman, lists in his article numerous studies demonstrating the ineffectiveness of NRT products in “the real world.” Findings from pharmaceutical company trials are not replicated among quitters. MacKenzie and Chapman do not have favourable opinions regarding ecigs either but, unlike NRT, real-world evidence for the efficacy of vaping does exist.

Writing at the release of the findings from his paper Real-world effectiveness of e-cigarettes when used to aid smoking cessation, Robert West said: “People attempting to quit smoking without professional help are approximately 60% more likely to report succeeding if they use e-cigarettes than if they use willpower alone or over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies such as patches or gum.”

A paper carried in this month’s Nicotine & Tobacco Research journal (titled Associations Between E-Cigarette Type, Frequency of Use, and Quitting Smoking) identifies the set-ups most likely to succeed. The team, led by Doctor Sara Hitchman from King’s College, discovered that vapers using a tank-based system on a daily basis stood the best chance of quitting. Standard cigalikes faired very unfavourably, even daily usage led to a quit rate lower than that achieved by smokers using no tools to help them.

Tobacco companies are currently at pains to point out that their cigalike products offer an alternative to smoking and not a path from it. This is fortunate in light of the new findings. West, in his recent work, discovered that cigalike users either progress to 2nd/3rd Generation equipment or tend to lapse back into full time smoking. Those most likely to make the transition, as highlighted by Hitchman’s work, are those who use their cigalikes every day.

Hitchman said: “Our research demonstrates the importance of distinguishing between different types of e-cigarettes and frequency of use when examining the association between e-cigarettes and quitting. At this point, we don’t know why people who use tank-type e-cigarettes daily are more likely to have quit.”

Although the team indicate that they believe 2nd/3rd Generation equipment delivers nicotine better they can’t categorically state this as the reason for their success. Vapers would probably point out that well-developed online networks, such as POTV’s forum, contribute a support system for advanced users that doesn’t exist for less motivated cigalike users.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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