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Relapse Study Criticised

A study published in JAMA Network Open looked at incidence of cigarette smoking relapse among individuals who switched to vaping

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A study has been published in JAMA Network Open looking at the incidence of cigarette smoking relapse among individuals who switched to using electronic cigarettes. It concluded that vaping does not prevent people switching back to smoking and has drawn criticism from leading cessation expert Professor Peter Hajek.

The study (1), “Incidence of Cigarette Smoking Relapse Among Individuals Who Switched to e-Cigarettes or Other Tobacco Products”, sees the authors saying they found: “9.4% of respondents who smoked cigarettes became recent former smokers one year later. Switching to any tobacco product including e-cigarettes was associated with an 8.5% increase in relapse to smoking over the next year”.

The researchers concluded: “This large US nationally representative study does not support the hypothesis that switching to e-cigarettes will prevent relapse to cigarette smoking.”

Professor Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, is the expert behind the ground-breaking work that demonstrated vaping works at least three times better than any other quit smoking tool.

He said: “The press release badly misreports the study findings. It says that ‘smokers who quit but substitute e-cigarettes are more likely to relapse’, but this cohort study found no such effect. Smokers who quit unaided and those who needed e-cigarettes to help them quit did not differ in their relapse rates!

“This was despite the fact that smokers who need help to quit are typically more dependent, with a higher risk of relapse, than those who are able to quit unaided. Indeed, in this cohort too, unaided quitters were significantly less dependent on their cigarettes than those who quit with the help of e-cigarettes.

“Bizarrely, in a separate analysis, the study also mixed people who quit smoking and used e-cigarettes with those who continued to smoke but just switched to a different tobacco product. This combined group had a higher relapse rate, driven by people who never stopped using tobacco, but this has no bearing on evaluating effects of e-cigarettes.

“If anything, the study suggests that e-cigarette use removes the handicap of tobacco dependence, rather than that it causes relapse. This tallies with other evidence that e-cigarettes are an effective aid to stopping smoking. Smokers wishing to quit should not be put off trying e-cigs to do so.”


  1. Incidence of Cigarette Smoking Relapse Among Individuals Who Switched to e-Cigarettes or Other Tobacco Products - doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.20228810
  2. Professor Peter Hajek -

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Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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