A study published in JAMA Network Open looks at incidence of cigarette smoking relapse among individuals who switched to e-cigarettes or other tobacco products.
Prof Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), 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.”
‘Incidence of Cigarette Smoking Relapse Among Individuals Who Switched to e-Cigarettes or Other Tobacco Products’ by Pierce et al. was published in JAMA Network Open at 4pm UK TIME on Tuesday 19 October 2021.
Prof Peter Hajek: “No conflict of interest.”