A major new study has shown that e-cigarettes or vapes are nearly twice as effective as traditional nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) in helping smokers quit cigarettes.
Conducted in the UK, the yearlong study followed 886 smokers who were randomly assigned to use either e-cigarettes or NRTs, including patches, gums and lozenges. Both groups also participated in at least four weekly counseling sessions. After one year, 18 percent of e-cigarette users had successfully quit smoking, compared to 9.9 percent of those using NRTs. In addition, more e-cigarette users reduced their smoking by at least 50 percent; e-cigarette users also reported higher satisfaction and rated the device as more helpful than NRTs.
“Despite strict government regulation, high taxes, and extensive public awareness campaigns, smoking remains a major public health issue in the Philippines where almost 1 in 4 Filipino adults are smokers. This landmark study provides the strongest evidence to date that e-cigarettes are a viable smoking cessation tool and should be included in the country’s current tobacco control strategy,” said Joey Dulay, president of the Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association (PECIA).
“We urge the Department of Health and local legislators and doctors to consider the results of this important study. E-cigarettes can address weaknesses in currently available quit-smoking tools such as nicotine replacement therapies, and help smokers stop cigarette smoking for good,” said Peter Paul Dator, president of The Vapers Philippines.
The 2015 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) revealed that 23.8 percent of Filipino adults are smokers. The smoking rate among Filipino women (5.8 percent) is among the highest in ASEAN. The average age of smoking initiation among Filipino daily smokers is 17.8 years according to The Tobacco Control Atlas: ASEAN Region.
Study author Dr. Dunja Przulj believes that the study’s findings could change the way healthcare providers look at e-cigarettes and may help convince them to encourage smokers to try vaping as a smoking cessation tool.
“The UK specialist stop smoking services will now be more likely to include e-cigarettes among their treatment options, and health professionals will feel more comfortable in recommending e-cigarettes as a stop-smoking intervention. This may ultimately further accelerate the reduction in smoking and in smoking-related diseases,” said Dr. Przulj, Research Health Psychologist at Queen Mary University of London.
The study was published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the world’s most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals. It was funded by the UK National Institute for Health Research, the most integrated health research system in the world, and the largest national clinical research funder in Europe.
“This landmark research shows that switching to an e-cigarette can be one of the most effective ways to quit smoking, especially when combined with face-to-face [counseling] support,” according to Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Control Program Lead for Public Health England.
E-cigarette use part of UK national policy
In March 2018, Public Health England released its latest Evidence Review of E-Cigarettes. The main findings of the review include:
- Vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits.
- E-cigarettes could be contributing to at least 20,000 successful new quits per year and possibly many more.
- The evidence does not support the concern that e-cigarettes are a route into smoking among young people.
In its Tobacco Control Plan 2017-2022, the UK Government clearly stated its intention to support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products, particularly e-cigarettes. According to the UK Tobacco Control Plan, around 3.2 million people in the UK are currently using e-cigarettes, with an estimated 40% of them using e-cigarettes as a stop smoking tool and tens of thousands successfully quitting smoking each year as a result.
In its parliamentary report entitled “E-cigarettes” published in August 2018, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee cited Public Health England’s recommendation for smokers of conventional cigarettes to switch to e-cigarettes because vaping presents a small fraction of the risks of smoking and there are substantial health benefits from swapping permanently.
An operationally autonomous executive agency of the UK Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England employs 5,500 full-time staff consisting mostly of scientists, researchers and public health professionals. It provides government, local government, the National Health Service, Parliament, industry and the public with evidence-based professional, scientific expertise and support. Its independent evidence reviews have in large part shaped the UK Government’s policy on e-cigarettes and tobacco control.