Nearly three million people use some form of electronic cigarettes in the United Kingdom. Virtually all vapers used to be smokers or are currently using vaping as a way of reducing and eliminating their tobacco use.
The Cancer Research UK funded research followed 18,929 smokers who were trying to quit. They were marked as successful quitters if they were no longer smoking after twelve months.
The team found that NRT only worked for those who received it from a prescription – people buying it over the counter weren’t likely to be able to stop using tobacco.
Vapers were 95% more likely to be able to quit than people not vaping, compared to only a third of smokers finding success with NRT. They concluded: “It is the first study to evaluate the extent to which treatment efficacy is moderated by level of cigarette addiction and social grade in a real-world setting, providing useful insight that could enable treatment providers to tailor advice on which cessation aids may be most likely to help the user to achieve abstinence.”
Sarah Jackson said: “Stopping smoking reduces the risk of chronic diseases and increases quality of life and life expectancy. It is therefore important that every quit attempt has the best possible chance of success. Our study adds to growing evidence that use of e-cigarettes can help smokers to quit. It also raises concerns about the apparent lack of effectiveness of NRT bought from a shop.”
Jamie Brown said: “It is important that e-cigarettes appeared to be equally effective for smokers of all ages and social backgrounds. Smoking is one of the biggest contributors to health inequality between rich and poor and the growth in e-cigarette use may ultimately start to reduce this gap.”
Dr Leonie Brose, King's College London, said the study was “robust”. She added: “This is in line with what has already been found in randomised controlled trials and extends these findings to adult smokers in the real world,' she added.
'While success rates were similar for varenicline and vaping, vaping is much more popular among smokers trying to quit smoking and thus helped more smokers quit.”
Martin Dockrell, tobacco control lead at Public Health England, said: “This is yet more evidence, adding to a major recent UK trial, that vaping offers some of the most effective help for smokers to quit smoking, especially when combined with expert support. All we need for an e-cigarette to be available on prescription is for one to be licensed as a medicine.”
Dr Debbie Robson, a tobacco addiction researcher at King's College London, said: “Smokers should be wary that NRT may not increase their chances of quitting. They may well be better off investing in alternative nicotine replacement such as e-cigarettes.”
Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “This study highlights how crucial face-to-face support is for helping people to stop smoking. This study also provides further evidence that e-cigarettes are an effective quitting tool. The choice to switch to e-cigarettes must be made easier. Doctors and pharmacists should be very clear there's a range of quitting tools available including e-cigarettes, and smokers can try vaping as a way to quit.”
- “Moderators of real‐world effectiveness of smoking cessation aids: a population study” by Jackson, Kotz, West and Brown – [link]