E-cigarettes may help increase chances of smoking cessation

A new study by researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) found e-cigarettes may increase the chances of quit attempts for tobacco smokers.

The study, led by Matthew Carpenter, Ph.D., sought to answer the notion of whether or not e-cigarettes could help smokers quit altogether. The findings were published in Cancer Epidemiology.

To test this notion, researchers examined 68 smokers: 46 were randomized to freely utilize e-cigarettes, and 22 were placed as part of a control group. They also analyzed the total usage of e-cigarettes, in addition to changes in smoking habits and nicotine exposure.

The smokers placed in the e-cigarette group received a nicotine device with an option for low or high doses of the stimulant. All participants were evaluated for a period of four months.

The results demonstrated that participants who used the electronic device smoked less, about 37 percent fewer cigarettes, and had higher chances of quitting altogether, compared to their counterpart in the control group.

“The results are consistent with trials done outside the U.S. Many people rated the e-cigarettes similar to their usual product, which further suggests that these products might promote switching. Anything that gets smokers off combustible cigarettes is a good thing,” said Carpenter, the lead researcher.

However, despite the results, e-cigarettes might not be for everyone and could lead to traditional smoking, under particular circumstances, Carpenter stated. “It is important to protect non-smokers, particularly adolescents and young adults, from starting any nicotine-containing product. This is something we need to really guard against.”

“We know e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes, but that doesn’t mean e-cigarettes are completely safe,” Carpenter cautioned.