October 22, 2021 — Former smokers who use e-cigarettes are just as likely to burn out, compared to those who use other nicotine alternatives, new evidence shows.
A recent study showed that people who quit smoking smoke and then start using electronic cigarettes was just as likely to return to the traditional tobacco cigarettes as people who switched to nicotine gum and other products.
The most effective method was to quit tobacco altogether. In general, the use of e-cigarettes or another tobacco product is associated with an 8.5% greater chance that a recent quit would smoke again, compared to people who have become ‘cold turkey’.
The study was published on October 19 JAMA network open.
Interestingly, the findings come the week after the FDA released its first e-cigarette authorization for three Vuse tobacco flavor vaping products. Data from manufacturer RJ Reynolds has shown that the products ‘could be an advantage for addicted smokers who switch to these products – either completely or with a significant reduction in cigarette consumption – by reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals’, the FDA said. said in a news release.
“We were very surprised at the FDA’s approval to allow some e-cigarettes to be marketed to help smokers quit,” says John P. Pierce, PhD, lead author of the smoking cessation study.
The current paper poses a different question about e-cigarettes, compared to two previous studies by Pierce and colleagues. A December 2020 study E-cigarettes evaluated as a long-term aid quit smoking. Another one study, in September 2020, compares the use of e-cigarettes, other aids and the cessation of tobacco cold turkey.
But “none of our work could find a benefit to stopping e-cigarettes from quitting,” says Pierce, an emeritus professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego.
So the researchers decided to test whether people who have already quit smoking are more likely to go back to smoking within 1 year — to return — if they switch to e-cigarettes, a product like nicotine stickers, or just quit altogether .
Nearly 1 in 4 stops switched to e-cigarettes
Pierce and colleagues studied 13,604 cigarette smokers from the US Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study. At the first annual follow-up, 9.4% stopped recently.
Among the group of 1,228 who quit recently, 37% switched to a non-cigarette tobacco product, including 23% who switched to e-cigarettes. The remaining 63% remained tobacco-free. Non-Hispanic whites, people who were most addicted to tobacco, and those with an annual income of more than $ 35,000 were more likely to switch to e-cigarettes.
To complicate matters, some people smoke cigarettes and use e-cigarettes where smoking is not allowed. But that does not serve as the goal of ‘reducing damage’ to switch to a supposedly safer product, Pierce and colleagues say.
“The potential for harm reduction with e-cigarettes requires that those who try to quit successfully move away from cigarettes altogether and not become dual product users.”
A ‘hotly debated’ topic
Meanwhile, the controversy over e-cigarettes continues as a way to quit smoking.
The question ‘is still being strongly discussed’, writes Terry F. Pechacek, PhD, in a commentary published with the study.
“These new results contribute to the growing body of evidence from randomized trials and observational studies examining the effect of switching to e-cigarettes on smoking cessation,” said Pechacek, a professor of health management and policy at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
The study, ‘he says,’ provides additional evidence to suggest that switching to e-cigarettes in a real-world environment may lead to a higher relapse after smoking. ‘