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expert reaction to new studies on vaping and quitting

A study published in the BMJ and a review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews have reported that e-cig use was associated with successful attempts at quitting smoking.

All our previous output on this subject can be seen here.

 

On both studies:

Prof. Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London, said:

“We increasingly know or hear of people who say that electronic cigarettes helped them to stop smoking. These two new publications, using very different designs, provide objective evidence for this.

“The BMJ study found that successful quit attempts increased over the period of time that electronic cigarettes became popular.  The Cochrane study included an analysis of two of the most robustly designed studies and found that electronic cigarettes with nicotine helped smokers to stop.

“In my view, smokers struggling to stop should try all possible methods, including electronic cigarettes, to help them to do so.”

 

On the BMJ study:

Prof. Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy at the University of Stirling and CRUK/BUPA Chair in Cancer Prevention at Cancer Research UK, said:

“These data are important because they show the impact of e-cigarette use at a population level. People often say we need more randomised controlled trials to show whether e-cigarettes help people stop smoking, but so far only two have been published. More are underway but these types of studies are expensive and lengthy to complete.  In the meantime people are using e-cigarettes so it is very useful to observe what happens when they do, as the Smoking Toolkit Study does.

“It suggests many people are using e-cigarettes rather than other available options to stop smoking, and for a significant number they are working. This is particularly interesting at a time in the UK when other parts of tobacco control are poorly resourced – we have almost no media campaigns to prompt people to try and quit, for instance, and stop smoking services are under threat. Despite this, smoking rates continue to fall. The British public have voted with their feet and are choosing to use e-cigarettes. This is a positive choice and we should promote it.”

 

Prof. Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, said:

“E-cigarettes are good news for smokers and for public health. The findings of this new study tally with provisional results of the latest Opinion and Lifestyle Survey which estimates that in England, there are now some 800,000 people who successfully switched from smoking to vaping and another 640,000 who used to smoke and vape and now stopped both.”

 

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“Nearly one in five adults in the UK smoke, significantly increasing their risk of coronary heart disease. Stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to improve your heart health, and we know that more and more people are turning to e-cigarettes to quit. What’s reassuring is this study suggests that rather than undermining people’s efforts, using e-cigarettes improves the likelihood of someone quitting.

“However, we need to assess the potential long-term effects of these devices which is why the BHF is funding research to find out whether or not they are as safe as people think. In the meantime the most effective way to stop smoking is to use the NHS Stop Smoking Service or visit our website for helpful advice.”

 

 

‘Association between electronic cigarette use and changes in quit attempts, success of quit attempts, use of smoking cessation pharmacotherapy, and use of stop smoking services in England: time series analysis of population trends’ by Emma Beard et al. published in The BMJ on Tuesday 13 September. 

 

‘Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation (Review)’ by J Hartmann-Boyce et al published by Wiley in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews on Tuesday 13 September. 

 

Declared interests

Prof. Hajek received researcher funding from and provided consultancy to manufacturers of stop-smoking medications. He has no links with any e-cigarette manufacturers. His research into e-cigarette safety and effects has been funded by NIHR, PHE, UKCTAS and MHRA.

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