E-Cigarettes as Effective as Nicotine Patches in Smoking Cessation

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More studies are helping regulators to decide what role e-cigarettes could play in anti-smoking efforts.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently evaluating the safety of e-cigarettes, which are battery-powered versions of cigarettes that can contain varying amounts of nicotine but don’t expose users to the potentially harmful byproducts of tobacco smoke such as tar and carbon monoxide. Instead, they inhale nicotine vapors, which the device’s advocates say is safer than smoking conventional cigarettes, and makes e-cigarettes a viable way to kick the habit as well.

And the latest study on e-cigarettes, published in the journal Lancet, supports that claim. In the first clinical trial comparing e-cigarettes and nicotine patches in helping people to quit smoking, both methods proved equally successful. After a 13-week smoking cessation program, similar numbers of smokers who used e-cigarettes remained smoke-free after six months as used nicotine patches.

(MORE: E-Cigarettes Are Finding New Users in Teens)

The researchers, from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, recruited 657 smokers eager to kick the habit. One group received placebo e-cigarettes with no nicotine, another group received a 13-week supply of e-cigarettes with 16 mg of nicotine and the third was provided with a 13-week supply of nicotine patches.

Among the e-cigarette smokers, 7.8% had quit by the end of the study, while 5.8% of those using the patch had stopped lighting up, a difference that wasn’t statistically significant, meaning that the two interventions had essentially the same impact.

These results support other data suggesting that e-cigarettes can help smokers to quit; earlier this year, a study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that those using e-cigarettes were more likely to quit smoking, even if they didn’t want to. Italian researchers from the University of Catania set out to test whether using e-cigarettes would help smokers cut back on their smoking over a year, but by the end of the study, 13% of the group with the highest dose of nicotine in their e-cigarettes (7.2 mg) were no longer lighting up.

(MORE: Doctors Asked to Counsel Teens About the Dangers of Smoking)

The FDA is likely to consider these studies, among others, as it considers what to do about e-cigarettes. While the agency currently doesn’t regulate them, it intends to do so soon, and determine what role, if any, the devices can play in smoking cessation. One strategy that Mitch Zeller, the FDA’s director of the Center for Tobacco Products may consider in assessing tobacco products involves the so-called continuum of risk, which takes into account that there is a spectrum of tobacco products that exposes consumers to varying amounts of nicotine, and therefore varying levels of health risks. On one end live the traditional cigarettes, and on the other are products like nicotine patches and lozenges, which are designed to wean smokers of their dependence on nicotine. E-cigarettes may fall somewhere in between, since they can help smokers to quit, as the latest evidence shows, but may also serve as an introduction to cigarettes for younger smokers. A recent study showed that in the U.S., for example, e-cigarette use has doubled among high schoolers and middle schoolers, and that 76% of e-cigarette users also smoked conventional cigarettes.

(MORE: Can Electronic Cigarettes Challenge Big Tobacco?)

Still, in a paper Zeller authored in the journal Tobacco Control, he argued that accepting a sliding scale of risk may be the most practical way to curb smoking rates, rather than regulating tobacco products from an all-or-none perspective. “Anyone who would ponder the endgame must acknowledge that the continuum of risk exists and pursue strategies that are designed to drive consumers from the most deadly and dangerous to the least harmful forms of nicotine delivery,” he wrote.

He also admits that this reflects an evolution in this thinking, and, some public experts hope, in that of the FDA, which has long been criticized for not being an effective advocate for public health against the tobacco industry.

19 comments
RehanZaib
RehanZaib

E-cigarettes came from out of the left field and caught everyone off guard, which is a good thing, because if the various anti-tobacco/anti-harm reduction factions would have had their way, they would have buried the e-cig as well.

http://ecig.pk

MickWright
MickWright

There are spam comment in this list from idiots pitching their books (or their clients book) on amazon. This should not be encouraged. Not by TIME anyway.

rp281091
rp281091

"76% of e cigarette user also using real cigarette." I think this statement suggest that high number of people are starting to stop smoking. They know that cigarette is not good for their health and to stop smoking they have to use e cigarette. This is positive site but it represent as another way. so please think twice before stopping e cigarette.

Electronic Cigarette

JenniferBonin
JenniferBonin

Frankly, I've never seen the attraction for cigarettes of any kind.  But obviously others disagree, and as the outside observer, I would surely rather have them smoking e-cigs than regular cigarettes around me.  E-cigs don't stink, don't make it hard for those of us with allergies or asthma to breathe, and don't cloud up the room and sting the eyes. 

And in addition to being much more pleasant for the non-smoker, they're also healthier for the smoker.  I know there's a lot of debate about the dangers of nicotine itself.  E-cigs don't change that risk, whatever it actually is.  But they do remove the tar and other known carcinogens from the smoking process.  So if I was a smoker who wanted to enjoy the "benefits" of smoking without the risk of cancer, I'd sure as heck switch over.  And if I was a parent with a kid who smoked, I'd surely push her to switch as well.  Even if it doesn't completely eliminate the health risk, it surely drops it by a huge margin. 

I don't have any interest in smoking e-cigs myself, but I strongly support those who DO smoke to switch over.  It's just the smart decision.

JohnnyK
JohnnyK

I've tried the patches and gums and none really worked for me. My doctor advised me to continue using them but I just didn't see myself quitting with those. For me, smoking is a habit that I enjoy - my goal was to get the same experience without all the harmful chemicals and carcinogens. Nicotine patches can't accomplish that - they're useful if you're only addicted to the "nicotine", which most people aren't. 

As a smoker, I crave not only the nicotine, but the habit of puffing out smoke, the throat-hit, and hand-to-mouth action. No product has been able to accomplish that yet. E-cigs are by far a better route for me. I've been using them for the past six months and haven't had the need to go out for a smoke. Here's a useful article, comparing e-cigs with patches: http://ecigarettereviewed.com/nicotine-patches-and-gums-vs-electronic-cigarettes - though I don't really agree with the "Cost" of e-cigs being lower than patches by $300 or so. I've been spending nearly $140 in the past month on my e-cig supplies. 


cantiloper
cantiloper

The anonymous but clearly professional Los Mortales plays a game with this statement about nicotine: "It is, certainly, the most addictive licit drug."  Antismokers used to frame it as "the most addictive drug in the world" until, perhaps, someone pointed out that kids who took up smoking for a while and easily quit might decide to fool around with "less addicting" substances like heroin and methamphetamine.

So now they're backtracking to "It is, certainly, the most addictive licit drug."   The "most" addictive?  How about naming a few of the other drugs truly considered addictive that people commonly use that are "licit" and freely available for ordinary purchase.  I guess caffeine might be one, though I don't recall seeing any studies of caffeine addicts compared to nicotine addicts.  But what about the others in that list?  The anonymous LMr seems to think there are a number of them, otherwise the word "most" would have no value.  Except as a propaganda term, which is, of course, how it was clearly intended.  


As for saying nicotine "is equally as dangerous as the tar and other poisons in tobacco smoke."  that's simple outright total irresponsibility and medical misinformation.  The referenced study indicates a possible carcinogenic connection for nicotine.  It does not indicate how strong a factor it might be or even say its role is proven in real life situations.  To leap from the contents of that study to such an outrageous statement would probably be grounds for criminal malpractice if "LM" was a medical professional and patients continued smoking rather than switching to alternatives based upon that advice.

Michael J. McFadden

Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

RitaJones
RitaJones

Its like reg soda n diet soda. The diet soda is the patch, n reg soda is th Ecig. Its just a preference. Ecig is takin over, n will last.

samuel.clemenz
samuel.clemenz

Robert Proctor on the tobacco company and advertising. This a good one just in general. The industry has a long history of just really awful ways of making the image work enough to keep people addicted. Enjoy (Especially you trolls who are trying to deceive people)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ytrl4Tw88N8



samuel.clemenz
samuel.clemenz

I am glad to see that there are rational people here who are willing to stand up to the media hype that is basically acting as a unified drug pusher. It's a sad state of affairs when some have lost all sense of decency and compassion and will push a so called 'safe' delivery method of a highly addictive drug like nicotine. It is proven that nicotine as a drug is highly addictive and perhaps more so that cocaine and heroin. Knowing this is unfortunately not enough. Trolls and tobacco industry minions are payed to get on these boards to refute any sensible evidence from real people. We don't count when they come up with the campaigns to market their evil murderous products, so they poo-poo any anecdotal personal evidence of the real effects nicotine has had in their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Do not get too upset when these people speak as if they are in fact the gatekeepers of the truth. I smoked for many years until I saw what it did to family members and others that were close to the family. When I finally quit it was a personal choice and i feel so much better for it. That said, it was the hardest thing I ever did in my life -- quitting. One only need to take a look at Dr. Robert Proctor's book Golden Holocaust for the evidence they wish to find. http://www.amazon.com/Golden-Holocaust-Cigarette-Catastrophe-Abolition/dp/0520270169

If that is not enough get on the the forums and boards that are maintained by people struggling with the addiction and, thankfully, real compassionate human beings trying to help others to see the truth about the addiction and help them quit.

E-cigs are just another gateway for users. That's it. And to the tobacco company, that means another store front for them to peddle their killing devices. Plain and simple. Nicotine is the key ingredient that hooks people on ANY tobacco product, so E-cigs provide a yet another method to hook people on the drug. 

For those that want to refute the decades of evidence that exists about nicotine, look, I'm not here to argue with you. It exists. If you don't find it in my post you can find it very easily. But stop playing devils advocate and deceiving people here. I would ask that you realize that by deceiving people about the ill effects of nicotine is nothing short of being complicit in leading millions to an addiction that could most likely be the cause in some way to their death. I would ask that you check your soul and conscience, but I am guessing you have neither if you want to refute the mounting evidence, scientific and anecdotal that exists.

 Can something else take them along the way sure, might there be some other illness along the way .. sure. The point is that it has been proven that smoking related illnesses are among the most costly and preventable out there. Supplying another way to get addicted to the very substance that keeps people smoking is totally irrational. It's not the solution. Stop peddling the drug. 

That is my well rational brain talking .. but here we know that as capital is king, tobacco companies don't want to lose profit, insurance companies can charge more for people that smoke, medical institutions can make more money studying cancer cures, surgeons can make ore money giving near fatal prognosis to their many patients. The point is ... The powers that be and the ones that pay writers' salaries will have them print only what they want to print so that they maintain that structure. It's sad but true. That's is the truth folks. 

It really is up to the populace at large to inform themselves about the harm that companies and media outlets are pushing and to fight as much as possible to boycott their products, or products like Ecigs, nicorette, patches. etc. They are only way to keep people addicted to Nictoine. Really individual and grass root education is the only defense. They have more money and more access to media that is going to be in your face. Sooo .. Inform yourself. Choose reason rather than the quick, 'supposedly' safe fix that they may be selling and RUN. They don't just want a few dollars, they want as many dollars as they can get, which an addictive drug will bring them. RUN people and tell as many people as possible that it is problem much bigger than just one simple device that probably costs them a few cents to make. It cost billions in medical costs where most of us are on the wrong end of it, and ultimately lives. 



LosMortales
LosMortales

It is the nicotine, folks, not the smoke.

Nicotine is, perhaps, the most addictive drug known to man.
It is, certainly, the most addictive licit drug.
The latest study out of Virginia Tech shows that nicotine, itself, is equally as dangerous as the tar and other poisons in tobacco smoke.
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0067252
E-Cigarettes are just another way to make money off of nicotine junkies. Do not be deceived by the “safety” hype.
There are plenty of good reasons to free yourself from nicotine.
If you want to kick the nicotine monkey off your back, get “Stop Smoking and Lose Weight: A Buddhadharmically Enhanced Alchemical Transmutation Process,” by Tharpa Lodro
http://www.amazon.com/Stop-Smoking-Weight-Buddhadharmically-ebook/dp/B00E55R8F6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374761933&sr=1-1#


And just do it.


Matthew Thomas
Matthew Thomas

"A study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that those using e-cigarettes were more likely to quit smoking, even if they didn’t want to."

payloanreviews272
payloanreviews272

I personally used e-cigarettes to help kick my smoking habit, I quit about two years ago and haven't looked back. I used e-cigarettes to help stop smoking and it worked.


bojimbo26
bojimbo26

Take away alcohol and tobacco and the economy would collapse . Less people smoking cigarettes but using e-cigarettes and the price would rocket on the e-cigarettes .

cantiloper
cantiloper

@samuel.clemenz  your posting would be more powerful if you actually identified yourself so that YOU wouldn't be thought to be a paid troll yourself (there's no oversight of Big Pharma's spending and communications in the way there is of Big Tobacco's).  It would also help if you explained why think BigT is pushing E-cigs when E-cigs have arguably been one of the biggest drains of their profits in the last two or three years.  Yeah, they're getting into the market a bit belatedly now, but they were lined up nice and solid with the Antismokers on the issue a couple of years ago.

- MJM

dmbowie89
dmbowie89

@LosMortales you are Sir, a complete idiot. You have giving us links to some sites that have no credibility. I have smoked cigarettes for 13 years now. IM 24. I can tell you that its not the nicotine that is causing me to get sick every other month. Its not the nicotine that is causing me to develop asthma. Its not the nicotine that is causing me to have terrible coughing episodes. Its not the nicotine that has abolished me from walking up a large flight of stairs.

Its definitely the Tar, Tobacco  and 20,000 other poison I am inhaling into my lungs. I recently kicked tobacco and have bought myself a E-CIG. Guess what Mortales? I no longer have coughing episodes. I no longer that as bad as asthma. I no longer am afraid to walk up a flight of stairs. I no longer get sick as often. You obviously were paid to get on this and write your two cents.

You cant tell me that its solely the nicotine that is causing all of the above symptoms. You and your puppets are very scared from the E-CIG because of revenue and profit of your product. You should be scared. You should be terrified. BTW the E-CIG I have has 0mg of Nicotine. Can I buy a tobacco product with that amount? can I?

As far as E-CIGS being more safe then tobacco products. That is for the FDA to decide. I can only imagine what will happen when the FDA studies come back and conclude that E-CIGS are a more safe alternative. You and your puppets will loose a lot  of business.

PS. 

Smoke on that and eat it.