Electronic cigarettes may help people quit smoking, study suggests

Electronic cigarettes may help people quit smoking, study suggests
Photo: vladee_studio, Bigstock

Electronic cigarettes may be more effective than nicotine replacement therapy in the attempt to quit smoking, a new study has found.

The randomised trial found that 18 percent of people who used e-cigarettes were smoke-free a year later, compared to just 9.9 percent of people who used nicotine replacement products (like sprays, gum and patches).

Prior to the study, evidence as to the efficacy of e-cigarettes on smoking abstinence was limited. This study offers health practitioners some evidence for the possible recommendation of e-cigarettes in the process of quitting smoking.

E-cigarettes simulates the sensation of smoking without the use harmful chemicals. Its efficacy in the cessation of tobacco smoking may be due to the familiarity of smoking cigarettes it provides, and by allowing users to better monitor and tailor their nicotine dose.

However, the long-term health effects of vaping are unclear. A report from the CSIRO has suggested that the regular use of e-cigarettes may have harmful consequences, but that the extent of these health effects are unknown.

Experts suggest that avoiding both vaping and smoking is the safest option, however vaping in the short-term as a means of quitting smoking may be helpful.

The sale of liquid nicotine is currently illegal in Australia, despite it being legal in Canada, the U.S., Britain and New Zealand. Australians who want nicotine in their e-cigarettes are required to purchase it overseas or through a doctor’s prescription – which can be difficult to obtain.

In order to make vaping nicotine legal in Australia – which could help people in the attempt to quit smoking – nicotine-containing e-cigarettes must first be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Experts suggest that the product should be made available to smokers to want to quit, yet be regulated to stop the rise of vaping amongst young people (which experts warn could lead to tobacco smoking).