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expert reaction to study looking at e-cigarettes versus nicotine patches for smoking cessation in pregnant women who smoke

A study published in Nature Medicine looks at e-cigarettes vs nicotine patches in helping pregnant women who smoke quit.


Prof John Britton, Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology, University of Nottingham, said:

“This study is an important development in managing the sometimes seemingly intractable problem of helping pregnant smokers to quit.  Smoking in pregnancy is a major health hazard to the unborn and newborn baby, causing the loss of up to 5000 babies every year and possibly impairing development throughout the child’s life.  Methods to help pregnant women to quit are therefore urgently needed, particularly since conventional methods are of relatively low efficacy in this group.

“In this study, the relative efficacy on effectiveness is robust.  The news that vaping is more effective than medicinal nicotine in this context offers another method to reduce this burden of disease.

“On safety, there are grounds for optimism here but we need continued evaluation on this.  In addressing concerns about the possible long term hazards of vaping, which are unknown but likely, if anything, to be minor, it is important to bear in mind that smoking in pregnancy is lethal to children.  Women who are pregnant and who have not been able to quit smoking should therefore be encouraged, as strongly as possible, to switch to vaping.”



‘Electronic cigarettes versus nicotine patches for smoking cessation in pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial’ by Peter Hajek et al. was published in Nature Medicine at 16:00 UK time on Monday 16 May 2022.

DOI: 10.1038/s41591-022-01808-0



Declared interests

Prof John Britton: “No conflicts.”

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