In the clinical trial, the results of which were recently presented at the 2020 Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology, it was found that smokers who switch to vaping and had smoking cessation counselling “were more than twice as likely to successfully quit smoking compared to those who received counselling” alone.
Lead author Dr Mark Eisenberg said: “These findings show that nicotine e-cigarettes are effective for smoking cessation in the short term. Vaping with counselling is more effective than counselling alone, although it’s not a magic bullet for smoking cessation.”
The trial was conducted with 376 quitters across 17 smoking cessation venues in Canada. The average participant was 53yrs, smoked a pack a day and had done so for 35 years. The authors report all the participants being highly motivated to quit tobacco use, and that most had tried and failed previously using traditional approaches such as nicotine replacement therapy or counselling alone.
The authors discovered that, after three months, 21.9% nicotine-containing eliquid users, and 17.3% of non-nicotine eliquid users had quit. This compared exceptionally favourably with the 9.1% of people using only counselling who had managed to quit smoking.
The participants were split into three groups and those using vape products were told they could use them as frequently as they felt they needed to. As well as phone support, participants were called into the quit centres for two check-ups during the trial period.
Dr Eisenberg said the results were “quite impressive” given that the smokers in the trial were all long-term heavy users. Even those who didn’t managed to completely quit smoking by switching to vaping still recorded dramatic falls in the number of cigarettes they used each day.
People using nicotine eliquids saw their daily smoking habit drop by an average of 13 per day. Even those who vaping nicotine-free juice saw smoking rates drop by an average of 11 cigarettes per day.
Those who didn’t quit and were relying on counselling alone reduced their cigarette consumption by seven a day.
Dr Eisenberg reported that one person claimed, “an exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease”, but said it wasn’t possible to attribute this to vaping. He was keen to say that vaping should be restricted to quit attempts and not be available to young people. Given the success rates observed, this seems a poor approach to helping smoking teens quit.
“We desperately need information on whether e-cigarettes are effective for smoking cessation, but we also need safety data, as well,” he said.
Data from the three groups will continue to be collected for a period of one year.