A new randomized study of British adults has found that e-cigarettes can be more effective in helping people quit smoking than traditional nicotine-replacement products. The results of the study have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine and have already been widely embraced by experts in the UK. Robert West, a professor of health psychology and director of tobacco studies at University College London, said that the study “provides the clearest indication yet that e-cigarettes are probably more effective than products such as nicotine gum and patches.”
For the study, researchers randomly assigned about 900 smokers in the UK to either a group that used e-cigarettes to quit smoking or a group that used traditional nicotine-replacement products such as patches and gum. The participants of both groups were given one-on-one behavior therapy each week for four weeks. At the end of one year, the participants were biochemically tested to assure they had stopped smoking.
According to the researchers, the one-year abstinence rate was about 10 percent (44 participants) in the traditional nicotine-replacement group and was 18 percent (79 people) in the e-cigarette group. Lead researcher Peter Hajek from Queen Mary University of London stated, “E-cigarettes were almost twice as effective as the ‘gold standard’ combination of nicotine replacement products.” The e-cigarette users also reported less severe urges to smoke than those on other forms of nicotine replacement.
While many experts in the UK agree that e-cigarettes should be included in adult anti-smoking efforts, U.S. researchers urge caution. Jennifer Hobbs Folkenroth, senior director of tobacco at the American Lung Association’s said, “The US Food and Drug Administration has not found any e-cigarette to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit. We only support methods that are FDA approved and regulated.”