The team from San Diego might have tempered their research with caveats and some limited analysis, but the key figure is their claim that smokers believe vaping works as a quit tool – despite all of the hysteria being propagated in their state. They conducted the study because, they claim, “the evidence for e-cigarettes to aid quitting is limited.”
They looked at data from 3,093 quit attempters. Unfortunately, their study failed to address the success rates from quit attempters ranked by the type of device used. They did note a comment from The National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine report: “For both individuals and for public health, the central potential benefit of e-cigarettes is to promote smoking cessation among established cigarette smokers or at least to reduce a smoker’s exposure to combustible tobacco product.”
The team discounted all but one study looking at vaping and smoking cessation because they “were considered to have significant methodological flaws that limited the quality of conclusions.” This is surprising given the quality of studies produced in the UK – not least this week’s report by the Office of National Statistics.
“The most common cessation aids used were [electronic cigarettes] (25.2% of all quit attempters) suggesting that smokers may lack confidence in pharmaceutical cessation aids,” they concluded. “We estimated that using [electronic cigarettes] increased the probability of persistent abstinence from cigarettes by 6%.”
In fact, their only worry was increased nicotine use buy those who relapsed back into smoking, but failed to compare this to smoking rates of those who didn’t try vaping – and then indulged in pure speculation regarding the difficulty of future quit attempts.
Neil McKeganey led the Centre for Substance Use Research’s team. They write: “Evidence from cross-sectional surveys of nationally representative samples of US adults and non-probabilistic surveys of dedicated e-cigarette users suggests that smokers tend to initiate e-cigarette use with tobacco-flavoured e-cigarettes but transition to exclusive or predominant use of non-tobacco flavoured products - particularly fruit, sweet, and dessert flavours - with increased frequency and duration of e-cigarette use.”
“Restricting access to non-tobacco e-cigarette flavours may discourage smokers from attempting to switch to e-cigarettes”
The paper expresses concern over the move to ban flavours in some states of the USA. It then concluded: “Judgements on whether authorising marketing of flavoured e-cigarettes would be appropriate for the benefit and protection of the public health should account for the possibility that adults who have switched completely from smoking cigarettes to using e-cigarettes in non-tobacco flavours may not have attempted to switch to e-cigarettes, or perceived themselves as able to switch, had e-cigarettes only been available in the flavours that are available through conventional cigarettes.”