E-cigarettes may help smokers quit after all

E-cigarettes linked to helping people quit smoking

These surveys provided smoking-cessation rates, and the most recent survey, from 2014 to 2015, had information about e-cigarette usage.

After stalling for 15 years, the USA quit-smoking rate rose to almost 6 percent in 2014-2015, up from less than 5 percent in prior years, according to national survey data.

The rate of people quitting smoking increased to 5.6 percent in 2014-15 which suggested that around 35,000 smokers quit the habit.

The report, which surveyed 161,054 people in the USA across nearly 15 years, also found that substantially more people in the States are using e-cigarettes, and that this was linked to a "statistically significant increase in the smoking cessation rate at the population level".

E-cigarettes linked to helping people quit smoking

E-cigarettes vaporize liquid nicotine, so they deliver the drug directly instead of burning tobacco and creating tar, which has cancer-causing chemicals.

A study led by University of Stirling researchers found that young people who have tried an e-cigarette may be more likely to go on to smoke cigarettes than those who didn't in the first place. In 2010 about 1.4% of smokers were users of e-cigarettes.

"It makes no sense to provide smokers less alternatives to help them cut down and quit".

But scientists remain divided over whether e-cigarettes are a "gateway" to smoking or a less harmful tool that helps smokers quit.

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The BMJ study, titled "E-cigarette use and associated changes in population smoking cessation: evidence from USA current population surveys" was undertaken to find whether the dramatic increase in vaping between 2010-2014 had any connection with an overall drop in smoking in the US. The authors write that things like national ad campaigns against smoking and a tobacco tax probably helped, too.

The AHA said it is reasonable for physicians to support a patient's use of an e-cigarette to stop smoking if they have failed approved therapies and would like to try this approach.

"They may do better with e-cigarettes because they may already be motivated to quit", he said. Prior to e-cigs, the rate of smoking cessation among the entire population did not change significantly, despite the advocacy of pharmacotherapy. The data included in the study came from individuals who were smoking 12 months before the interview.

E-cigs possess the potential to reduce a deadly habit that is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the U.S.

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"This study suggests that we should be receptive to the kind of approach that health authorities in England have taken, encouraging smokers who can not quit otherwise to try e-cigarettes", Warner said.

"We are pretty confident that e-cigarettes are less unsafe, but that is only because cigarettes are so bad", he said.

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