E-Cigarettes Might Not Help Smokers Quit

Electronic cigarettes not tied to quitting smoking or reduced cigarette use

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Some have suggested that e-cigarettes can be a beneficial tool for smokers trying to cut back on their tobacco habit, but evidence may be lacking for these claims.

A new study asked smokers about their smoking habits and e-cigarette use.

This study found that using e-cigarettes was not associated with a greater likelihood of quitting smoking or even cutting back one year later.

"Ask your doctor for strategies if having trouble quitting cigarettes."

"Although electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or electronic nicotine delivery systems) are aggressively promoted as smoking cessation aids, studies of their effectiveness for cessation have been unconvincing," wrote the authors of this new study, which was led by Rachel A. Grana, PhD, MPH, of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco.

To explore this topic further, Dr. Grana and team used the Knowledge Networks online survey, which consisted of an initial survey in November 2011 and a follow-up survey one year later, in November 2012.

In total, data from 949 participants who identified themselves as smokers and completed both surveys were analyzed. Participants were asked a variety of questions about their smoking habits, including about e-cigarette use, how often they smoked and intention to quit.

Of the participants, 88 (9.27 percent) identified themselves as e-cigarette users. The researchers found that women, younger adults and those with a lower level of education were more likely to use e-cigarettes.

At the study's start, both those who used e-cigarettes and those who did not reported smoking an average of 26.3 days out of the previous 30 days. The e-cigarette users reported smoking an average of 16.1 cigarettes per day and those who did not use e-cigarettes reported an average of 14.4 cigarettes per day.

In the initial survey, 69 percent of e-cigarette users reported having their first cigarette of the day less than 30 minutes after waking up, the same of which was true in only 57.9 percent of smokers who didn't use e-cigarettes.

In total, 13.5 percent of participants quit smoking by the study's end. Of the 88 e-cigarette users, 9 participants (10.23 percent) quit smoking.

Dr. Grana and team found that e-cigarette use at the study's start was not associated with a greater likelihood of having quit smoking or having cut back on cigarette use by the study's end.

Further research is needed to explore the topic in more detail. It is important to note that the smoking data was self-reported by participants in this study and the number of e-cigarette users was fairly small.

"Regulations should prohibit advertising claiming or suggesting that e-cigarettes are effective smoking cessation devices until claims are supported by scientific evidence," wrote Dr. Grana and team.

This study was published online March 24 in JAMA Internal Medicine. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
March 24, 2014
Last Updated:
March 25, 2014