E-Cigs: Do They Help You Quit?

May 21, 2014 01:08 PM EDT

New evidence has surfaced that suggests using electronic cigarettes may actually help tobacco smokers kick their harmful habit. However, past studies have shown just the opposite, meaning that the consensus is still unclear even as the facts are finally coming in.

A study recently published in the journal Addiction details how tobacco smokers who are trying to quit without aid are far more likely to succeed if they start using electronic cigarettes, compared to those who quit cold-turkey or use nicotine patches.

In a wide-scale survey of more than 5,800 smokers between 2009 and 2014, researchers found that about one fifth of those participants who attempted to quick smoking achieved so using electronic cigarettes alone. This may seem like a small number, but electronic cigarettes were found to be the most effective smoking cessation device even after accounting for influential factors such as age, and severity of nicotine dependence.

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According to the study, only 10.1 percent of those who used patches and gum successfully stopped smoking, and only 15.4 percent of those who tried to quit using will-power alone managed to succeed.

In additional remarks, the authors of the report admit that due to how new the devices are, there are still many unanswered questions concerning the addictive nature and health dangers of the liquid nicotine used by e-cigarettes.

"It may be many years before one could accumulate enough real-world data to address these questions," the authors of the study wrote.

Interestingly, while the data from this report appears convincing, another study published last March in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine details how the majority of electronic cigarette users report no desire to stop smoking traditional cigarettes. Additionally, the research also showed that electronic cigarette smokers were more likely than traditional smokers to light up a tobacco cigarette within the first 30 minutes after waking up, supporting the theory that e-cigarettes can help perpetuate a severe nicotine addiction.

A final study published in JAMA Pediatrics earlier this year found in a survey that using electronic cigarettes appeared to have a negative effect on adolescents who regularly smoked cigarettes but intended to quit, lowering their chances of achieving a 30-day, six month, or one-year period of abstinence from tobacco.

With various conflicting evidence about the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes as "smoking cessation" devices, there is still no general consensus. However, more and more scientific evidence has been released as e-cigarete use becomes more popular. Soon, there may be enough evidence for consumers to make thier own educated decisions.

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