Quit Smoking With Electronic Cigarettes

Summary
This study examined the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, in helping to quit smoking. According to the results, e-cigarettes were very helpful in smoking cessation. “The primary finding was that the six-month point prevalence of smoking abstinence among e-cigarette users in the sample was 31 percent. A large percentage of respondents reported a reduction in the number of cigarettes they smoked (66.8 percent) and almost half reported abstinence from smoking for a period of time.”  Thus, it is believed that e-cigarettes may be a very effective smoking cessation tool worth exploring.

Introduction
An e-cigarette is a device that provides nicotine to the users without any combustion or smoke. Over the past few years there has been a remarkable increase in the use of these e-cigarettes. Many people use them as alternatives to smoking. They can also be used as a tool for smoking cessation. The success rate of most of the earlier nicotine replacement methods is as low as 17.8 percent at six-month follow-up. Two prior studies had shown that using e-cigarettes helps greatly in smoking cessation. In the present study, researchers wanted to analyze the ability of e-cigarettes in reducing the urge to smoke.

Methodology
* 5,000 first-time purchasers of “Blu” e-cigarettes were contacted via e-mail and were requested to participate in the present study. This invitation was sent seven months after their initial purchase of the e-cigarette. Two-hundred-and-twenty-two responded to the request, out of which six were excluded as they did not meet the criteria for smokers.
* All the participants were given an online questionnaire that included questions regarding their smoking history and number of previous quitting attempts.
* They were also asked questions regarding the usefulness of e-cigarettes in quitting their smoking habit.

Results
* Most of the participants who were enrolled in the study had smoked for six years or more.
* “More than two-thirds of respondents (66.8 percent) reported having reduced the number of tobacco cigarettes they smoked per day after trying e-cigarettes, and nearly half (49.3 percent) reduced their nicotine use.”
* 31 percent of respondents were able to completely quit the habit of smoking after six months.
* “Of those who were not smoking regular cigarettes at six months, 56.7 percent were using e-cigarettes, 9 percent were using tobacco-free nicotine products and 34.3 percent were completely nicotine-free,” per the authors.

Shortcomings
The important limitation of the present study was the low response rate (4.5 percent). There is a chance that those who were unable to quit smoking did not respond to the invitation. So there is a possibility of an overestimation of a six-month abstinence rate. The cessation of smoking was self-reported by the respondents in the present study. No confirming biochemical investigations were done to verify the reports. Moreover, only one brand of e-cigarettes was examined in the present study. So the results of this study cannot be generalized across other brands of e-cigarettes.

Conclusion
This study proves that e-cigarettes are useful in the cessation of smoking. Tobacco smoke, apart from nicotine, contains many other chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic. The use of e-cigarettes may help in preventing the adverse effects of such chemicals present in cigarette smoke. In addition, it can prove to be a powerful tool in the treatment of smoking addiction. “The distinct and unique advantage of e-cigarettes is that they allow individuals to utilize one device that can simultaneously address nicotine withdrawal, psychological factors and behavioral cues that serve as barriers to smoking abstinence,” conclude the researchers. This would be beneficial especially for those people who have tried other nicotine replacement therapies and still failed to quit smoking.

For More Information:
Electronic Cigarettes as a Smoking Cessation Tool: Results from an Online Survey
Publication Journal: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, February 2011
By Michael B. Siegel, MD; Kerry L. Tanwar; Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.
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