The review was conducted by Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, Hayden McRobbie, Chris Bullen, Rachna Begh, Lindsay F Stead and Peter Hajek. It’s an update of their previous review. The first one was published in 2014, compromising of 13 studies. In this latest review the team identified 11 new studies up to January 2016.
The report states its key results: “Combined results from two studies, involving 662 people, showed that using an EC containing nicotine increased the chances of stopping smoking in the long term compared to using an EC without nicotine. We could not determine if EC was better than a nicotine patch in helping people stop smoking, because the number of participants in the study was low. More studies are needed to evaluate this effect. The other studies were of lower quality, but they supported these findings. None of the studies found that smokers who used EC short- to mid-term (for two years or less) had an increased health risk compared to smokers who did not use ECs.”
Jamie Hartmann-Boyce was the lead author of this Cochrane Review, and represents the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group. He said, “The randomized evidence on smoking cessation is unchanged since the last version of the Review. We are encouraged to find many studies are now underway, particularly as electronic cigarettes are an evolving technology. Since the last version of the Review, 11 new observational and uncontrolled studies have been published.
Hartmann-Boyce continued: “In terms of quitting, these can’t provide the same information we get from randomized controlled trials, but they contribute further information on the side effects of using electronic cigarettes to quit smoking. None detected any serious side effects, but longer term data are needed.”
NBC News comment: “There's not much debate on whether e-cigarettes are a better alternative for smokers than traditional tobacco. Most of the disagreement over e-cigarettes centers on whether they're better than other aids for quitting smoking, such as nicotine patches.”
Ann McNeill, professor of Tobacco Addiction at King's College London, adds: "In my view, smokers struggling to stop should try all possible methods, including electronic cigarettes, to help them to do so.”
Science 2.0 remark: “Any smoking cessation or harm reduction tool is good. Smoking is a significant global health problem and, as the American Council on Science and Health has always phrased it, a paediatric disease. Once addicted to cigarettes, quitting is difficult, so if teens are going to do something for rebellion, an e-cigarette is much healthier than a cigarette.”