For McKeganey’s team, the problem is clear: “Despite rates of smoking uptake declining in the western world, tobacco smoking still continues to kill more people, cause more disease, and contribute more to social inequalities in high-income countries than any other preventable factor.”
CSUR consists of a team of substance use experts who conduct sound research to assist policy formation. For example, last month the centre released a study demonstrating the clear benefits conferred by smokers having access to JUUL products in combatting smoking prevalence.
The latest study by McKeganey, Miler and Haseen looked at “the impact of providing ‘free of charge’ electronic nicotine delivery systems on smokers’ attempts to quit or reducing smoking combustible tobacco products.”
The academics accept the findings of from Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal College of Physicians that vaping offers at least 95% less harm than using traditional tobacco cigarettes – “nevertheless these devices are not risk or harm free.”
They feel confident in advocating the use of vape technology because there is a “growing body of evidence beginning to emerge, suggesting that e-cigarettes can be an effective tool in helping people to quit smoking.”
“Studies investigating abstinence rates found that e-cigarettes are helpful in enabling smokers to switch. For example, the Eurobarometer 2017 study (8) about EC use in 28 Member States of the European Union utilised responses from 3,612 participants (current or ex-smokers who at least tried e-cigarettes in the past) and found that 14% of respondents indicated that e-cigarettes had enabled them to stop smoking tobacco entirely.”
CSUR’s study recruited 72 adult smokers. The participants agreed to try vaping for 90 days in place of smoking. They were given a BluPro kit and allowed to sample different juices before selecting three free bottles.
Range of flavours included: tobacco, menthol, blueberry, cherry and strawberry mint. These were available in 3 nicotine strengths. The participants “were told to purchase any additional refills from stockists in the community or from online vendors. The smokers could claim back up to £30 per month from juice purchases.
- All (100%) participants were smoking at baseline
- Complete smoking abstinence was achieved by 18.5% (12/65) at day-30; 25.4% (17/67) at day-60; and 36.5% (23/63) at day-90
- Abstinence rates from day-30 were sustained with 72.7% (8/11) participants at day-60, and 81.8% (9/11) at day-90
- Among participants who reported smoking abstinence at day-60, 87.5% (14/16) continued to be abstinent at day-90
The team believes their results demonstrate that vaping works as a quit tool, but “but a larger proportion needed more than 2 months to make the switch and gradually quit over a longer period.”
“On the basis of this study there is likely to be merit in providing smokers with access to e-cigarettes, letting them explore the various different flavours, and thereafter providing them with the opportunity to utilise these products either alongside or in place of combustible products.”