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expert reaction to survey on e-cigarettes and tobacco cessation

Attempting to explore the use of e-cigarettes in smokers and their effect on quitting smoking, researchers publishing in the American Journal of Public Health have reported that smokers who had ever used e-cigarettes were less likely to quit smoking than those who had never used e-cigarettes.


Prof. Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy, University of Stirling, said:

“This survey of 1,000 smokers in California claims that ‘smokers who have used e-cigarettes may be at increased risk of not being able to quit smoking’. Yet the study was not designed to determine this. It merely asked smokers at baseline and follow up if they’d used e-cigarettes with no information on whether this was trying them once or twice or regular use. It then simply described whether people who reported ever use had stopped smoking tobacco. This was not a study of the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping people quit smoking and should not be interpreted as such.”


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

“The survey provides little useful information. Smokers who found e-cigarettes effective and stopped smoking were excluded and only smokers who did not find e-cigarettes helpful were followed-up. If this methodology and logic was used with e.g. headache sufferers who were not helped by painkillers, it would conclude that painkillers promote headaches.”


E-cigarette Use in the Past and Quitting Behavior in the Future: A Population-Based Study’ by Al-Delaimy et al. published in American Journal of Public Health on Thursday 16th April. 


All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:


Declared interests


Prof. Linda Bauld chaired the programme development group on tobacco harm reduction that was responsible for producing guidance on harm reduction for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in 2013.

Prof. Peter Hajek: “I have no links with any tobacco or e-cigarette manufacturers. My research into the safety and effects of e-cigarettes is funded by UKCTAS, MHRA and NIHR.”

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