According to a new Cochrane review co-led by Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, a public health and health policy researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Medical Xpress reported on January 8, Nicotine e-cigarettes are more effective at helping people quit smoking than traditional nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
The findings, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, suggest that e-cigarettes, which allow users to “vaporize” nicotine rather than burn it and inhale it, are more likely to help them quit smoking than traditional NRTS such as patches, gum and lozenge.
“In the UK, in contrast to the rest of the world, e-cigarettes have been embraced by public health authorities as a tool to help people reduce the harm of smoking,” Hartmann-Boyce said. He did research at the University of Oxford in England before joining the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Hartmann-boyce noted that e-cigarettes do not burn tobacco, but heat up a nicotine and flavoring liquid, allowing users to inhale a nicotine-containing aerosol instead of inhaling tobacco smoke. Compared to traditional tobacco, smokers are exposed to a complex mixture of chemicals known to cause disease.
“We have very clear evidence that while e-cigarettes are not risk-free, they are much less harmful than smoking,” he said. Some people who have tried other methods of quitting in the past without success have found that e-cigarettes help them quit.
The analysis showed that for every 100 people who tried to quit using nicotine e-cigarettes, eight to 10 could be expected to succeed, compared with six out of every 100 who tried to quit using traditional nicotine replacement therapy and four out of every 100 who tried to quit without any support or with behavioral support alone.
Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved seven drugs that have been shown to help adults successfully quit smoking, e-cigarettes are not among them. The agency’s director, Dr. Robert Califf, said some e-cigarettes may help adults switch completely from more harmful burning tobacco or significantly reduce their use, and that public health standards balance the possible benefits with the known risks of using highly addictive products that appeal to youth.