E-CIG­A­RETTES COULD HELP YOU QUIT

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - MARIA CHENG

Peo­ple who used e-cig­a­rettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn’t, a new study found.

Nico­tine patches, gums and med­i­ca­tions are known to aid smok­ing cessation, but there’s no con­sen­sus on whether va­p­ing de­vices can help anti-smok­ing ef­forts. The U.S. re­search is the largest look yet at elec­tronic cig­a­rette users and it found e-cig­a­rettes played a role in help­ing peo­ple quit.

“It’s ab­so­lutely clear that e-cig­a­rettes help smok­ers re­place cig­a­rettes,” said Pe­ter Ha­jek, di­rec­tor of the health and life­style re­search unit at Queen Mary Univer­sity in Lon­don, who wasn’t part of the study.

Smok­ing rates have been gen­er­ally de­clin­ing for decades. Health ex­perts have cred­ited taxes on to­bacco prod­ucts and anti-smok­ing ads for the drop.

E-cig­a­rettes have been sold in the U.S. since 2007. Most de­vices heat a liq­uid nico­tine so­lu­tion into vapour and were pro­moted to smok­ers as a less dan­ger­ous al­ter­na­tive since they don’t con­tain all the chem­i­cals, tar or odour of reg­u­lar cig­a­rettes.

Re­searchers an­a­lyzed and com­pared data col­lected by the U.S. Cen­sus from 2001 to 2015, in­clud­ing the num­ber of adult e-cig­a­rette users from the most re­cent sur­vey.

About two-thirds of e-cig­a­rette users tried to quit smok­ing com­pared to 40 per cent of non-users, the study found. E-cig­a­rette users were more likely to suc­ceed in quit­ting for at least three months than non-users — 8 per cent ver­sus 5 per cent.

The re­search was pub­lished on­line Wed­nes­day in the jour­nal, BMJ. It was funded by the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health.

The rate of peo­ple quit­ting smok­ing in the U.S. has re­mained steady at about 4.5 per cent for years. It jumped to 5.6 per cent in 2014-2015, rep­re­sent­ing about 350,000 fewer smok­ers. It was the first recorded rise in the smok­ing cessation rate in 15 years.

While na­tional anti-smok­ing cam­paigns likely helped, the re­sults show e-cig­a­rette use also played an im­por­tant role, said lead au­thor Shu-Hong Zhu of the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Diego.

Ha­jek, who wasn’t part of the re­search, said va­p­ing de­vices shouldn’t be strictly reg­u­lated, but in­stead be al­lowed to com­pete di­rectly with cig­a­rettes. “That way, smok­ers can get what they want with­out killing them­selves,” he said.

Ear­lier this month, a House panel re­newed its ef­forts to pre­vent the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion from re­quir­ing retroac­tive safety re­views of e-cig­a­rettes al­ready on the mar­ket.

Others warned that the longterm side ef­fects of e-cig­a­rettes are un­known.

“We just don’t know if mov­ing to e-cig­a­rettes is good enough to re­duce the harm,” said Aruni Bhat­na­gar, di­rec­tor of the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion’s To­bacco Re­search and Ad­dic­tion Cen­ter.

Chris Bullen, who au­thored an ac­com­pa­ny­ing ed­i­to­rial, said al­though the long-term safety of eci­garettes is un­clear, any ill ef­fects are “likely to be rare com­pared with the harms of con­tin­u­ing to smoke.”

The lat­est re­sults strongly sug­gest that more le­nient con­trol of eci­garettes could im­prove pop­u­la­tion health, said Bullen, a pro­fes­sor of pub­lic health at the Univer­sity of Auck­land.

“If ev­ery smoker was to change over to e-cig­a­rettes com­pletely, there would be a dra­matic and al­most im­me­di­ate pub­lic health ben­e­fit,” he said in an email.

FILE PHOTO

A study found E-cig­a­rette users were more likely to suc­ceed in quit­ting for at least three months than non-users — 8 per cent ver­sus 5 per cent.

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