Public Health

E-Cigarettes Look More Effective Than Nicotine Gum or Patches

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A new South African study suggests that smokers who try to quit by switching to electronic cigarettes, devices that deliver nicotine vapor instead of tobacco smoke, are more likely to succeed than smokers who use other nicotine replacement products. Doctors in Cape Town gave Dutch-made Twisp e-cigarettes to 349 patients. After two weeks 6 percent of the patients had stopped smoking, and the quit rate rose to nearly half (45 percent) after two months. By contrast, a 2002 study in the journal Addiction found that the six-week quit rate was about 16 percent for smokers chewing nicotine gum and about 19 percent for smokers using nicotine patches. After six months, those rates fell to about 8 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

Even allowing for the likelihood that the success rate for e-cigarettes also would fall over time, they seem substantially more effective than the alternatives. That makes sense, since e-cigarettes more closely reproduce the experience of smoking. This new evidence of efficacy, combined with the fact that smokeless nicotine delivery is undeniably much safer than sucking in myriad toxins and carcinogens, reinforces the argument against banning e-cigarettes, which Oregon recently did and the Food and Drug Administration is threatening to do nationwide.

More on e-cigarettes here.