E-cigarettes linked to helping people quit smoking

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The study authors have used a large data set to address whether e-cigarettes can help adults break the cigarette habit and they determined "e-cigarettes are helping smokers to quit", Warner said.

"Such a data pattern makes it more reasonable to conclude that e-cigarette use contributes to the increase in the overall smoking cessation rate".

"We found that e-cigarette use was associated with an increased smoking cessation rate at the level of subgroup analysis and at the overall population level".

The findings were published in the journal BMJ.

The merits of e-cigarrettes need to be considered in tobacco control interventions, as smokers who use e-cigarettes are more likely to quit smoking successfully than those who don't, a study has recommended.

Tobacco companies want US regulators to approve new marketing claims for smokeless products as a safer alternative to smoking, and some public-health advocates agree. "For the first time in a long time, we are seeing more people quitting".

The study identified that the cessation rate for smokers who did not use e-cigarettes in 2014-15 was "statistically indistinguishable" from the rate in previous years.

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Reviewing survey responses from almost 25,000 current and former smokers in 2014-2015, Zhu and his colleagues found that "vapers" were more likely than nonusers to make a quit attempt (65 percent versus 40 percent).

Smoking rates have been generally declining for decades. Traditional cigarette smoke is estimated to raise a smoker's' risk for cancer by less than 1 part in 1,000, therefore, the risk of formaldehyde in the vapor of e-cigs is not as significant. Among them, 38.2% of current smokers and 49.3% of recent quitters had tried e-cigarettes, indicating a higher incidence among quitters. Most devices heat a liquid nicotine solution into vapour and were promoted to smokers as a less unsafe alternative since they don't contain all the chemicals, tar or odour of regular cigarettes. This supports the thesis that less strict control over e-cigarettes would be positive.

"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.

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.

Earlier this month, a House panel renewed its efforts to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from requiring safety reviews of e-cigarettes already on the market.

Regulation policies on e- cigarettes differ from country to country.

One limitation of the study is that details on how participants actually stopped smoking weren't available.