The study looked at 1124 adult smokers who were motivated to quit. The participants were split into three groups: one used just NRT patches, one used NRT patches and nicotine-free vape products, the last used NRT patches and also vaped with an 18mg eLiquid. All the adults were also offered telephone quit counselling to support them.
Walker and Bullen discovered that the group most likely to have remained smoke-free for the six months following their involvement in the process were those in the NRT patch/18mg cohort. This group produced between 7 and 17% more quitters.
“That may not sound like much of an effect, but it adds up,” said Dr Walker. “If we promoted using patches with a nicotine e-cigarette in New Zealand, where about 512,000 people smoke regularly, we would support 15,000 to 36,000 more people to become smokefree compared to using patches with a nicotine-free e-cigarette, and potentially 24,000 to 50,000 more people than if patches only were used. That’s a lot of people whose lives could be changed for the better – along with the health of their families and communities – simply by promoting the combination treatment.”
Walker continued: “Nicotine is what makes people want cigarettes, but it’s the tar and around 4000 other harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke that cause cancer, heart disease, lung problems and other smoking-related illnesses. It’s those other chemicals, not the nicotine, which kill up to two out of every three smokers.”
Dr George Laking said: “Almost 500, or 40 percent of participants were Māori, making it the largest randomised trial in the world of e-cigarette use involving indigenous people. Moreover, eight in every 10 Māori participants were women. The trial has shown the feasibility of combining nicotine e-cigarettes with patches for Māori who seek to quit smoking.”
This research from The University of Auckland is perfectly timed, according to Ben Pryor, co-owner of the largest Kiwi-owned vaping company, Alt New Zealand, with the Government poised to introduce legislation to regulate vaping.
Pryor believes the findings reinforce significant international evidence that proves vaping is a safe and effective smoking cessation tool and could motivate more smokers to quit smoking.
He said: “Maintaining access to vaping with nicotine is key to getting Kiwis off tobacco. We support the need for sound and solid industry regulation. However, we also support the need to ensure smokers wanting to quit cigarettes can transition to vaping with enough nicotine to satisfy them. That is simply what works.”
Mr Pryor says if the Government was to cap nicotine levels too low for vaping, limit flavours, and outlaw all advertising, smoking rates in New Zealand might start creeping up, putting an end to any national smoke-free ambition.
“Congratulations to the Government on its current ‘vape-to-quit-smoking’ public information campaign. However, if the Smoke-free Environments (Vaping) Amendment Bill sides with emotion more than evidence, then all the progress made in recent years could be quickly undone,” added Pryor.
- Nicotine patches used in combination with e-cigarettes (with and without nicotine) for smoking cessation: a pragmatic, randomised trial, The Lancet – [link]