A new scientific study into electronic cigarettes (AKA e-cigarettes) has found that the quitting method provides similar success results to nicotine patches. In other words, they are just as effective as other established smoking cessation aids in helping smokers to quit.
In the first clinical trial of its kind, researchers from the National Institute for Health Innovation at The University of Auckland in New Zealand compared e-cigarettes with nicotine patches in a bid to find out which method is the most effective.
657 smokers participated in the study, 289 of whom were assigned to nicotine e-cigarettes, 295 to patches, and 73 to placebo e-cigarettes. After six months, each group was assessed for verified smoking abstinence.
The researchers discovered that both methods result in comparable success in quitting, with roughly similar proportions of smokers who used either method remaining abstinent from smoking for six months after a 13 week course of patches or e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes, with or without nicotine, were modestly effective at helping smokers to quit, with similar achievement of abstinence as with nicotine patches, and few adverse events.
The study notes that the total number of quitters was relatively small, with just 5.7 percent of participants kicking their habit during the trial.
However, among those who had not managed to quit after six months, cigarette consumption was markedly reduced in the e-cigarettes group, with around 57 percent reducing their daily consumption of cigarettes by at least half. Only 41 percent of the patch wearers managed to achieve the same result.
The report concludes that more research is urgently needed to clearly establish the overall benefits and harms of nicotine-based e-cigarettes at both individual and population levels. But the existing evidence does suggest that e-cigarettes have the potential to increase rates of smoking cessation and reduce costs to quitters and to health services.