Quitting smoking: electronic cigarettes would do better than substitutes

According to a new British study, the use of electronic cigarettes is almost twice as effective as nicotine substitutes in stopping smoking. Researchers encourage smokers who want to quit to try all available withdrawal options.

According to the results of a British clinical trial conducted by Queen Mary University in London, electronic cigarettes are almost twice as effective as nicotine replacement treatments, such as patches and chewing gums, in helping smokers to quit smoking.

The trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and conducted with 886 smokers, found that 18% of participants who used electronic cigarettes became non-smokers after one year of testing, compared to only 9.9% of participants who tried to quit with other nicotine substitutes (gums, tablets, inhalers, patches, or a combination of these products).

All participants, randomly assigned to both groups, received individual behavioural support to accompany them to quit smoking for at least four weeks.

In addition to the improved efficacy of electronic cigarettes, the researchers found that:

abstinence rates were higher in the electronic cigarette group than in the alternative group at any time during the study;
among participants who did not achieve the level of total abstinence, more electronic cigarette users were able to reduce their cigarette consumption by at least 50% due to their exposure to carbon monoxide;
electronic cigarettes were used more frequently and longer than substitutes;
the “electronic cigarette” group reported fewer cough and mucus production problems than the “substitutes” group
Vaporizers experienced less severe cravings only 1 to 4 weeks after quitting smoking, and reported less irritability, less agitation and less concentration problems than others.
The electronic cigarette, a means of smoking cessation not to be neglected
For the researchers who are the authors of this study, these results should make doctors, nurses, pharmacists and tobaccoologists more confident about the value of electronic cigarettes in stopping smoking. They believe that this withdrawal method would benefit from being considered as such, especially since it allows a better adaptation of the nicotine dose ingested to meet everyone’s needs, and because it reproduces the gestural behaviour of smoking.

“Smokers have a range of options to help them quit smoking, including nicotine replacement therapy, prescription drugs or electronic cigarettes. Everyone is different, so smokers should not be afraid to experiment to find what suits them. But whatever the method chosen, it is clear that the support provided by smoking cessation support services (Tabac Info Service in France, editor’s note) offers smokers the best chance of quitting smoking,” said Sophia Lowes, of Cancer Research UK, which funded the study.

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