Data From England Suggest E-Cigarettes Help Smokers Quit


FIN e-cigarette ad

Boston University public health professor Michael Siegel highlights new survey data from England that show rising e-cigarette use has been accompanied by a notable increase in smoking cessation. According to the Smoking Toolkit Study, e-cigarette use in England has been rising since 2011, when the survey began. Meanwhile, the percentage of smokers who reported quitting in the previous year rose from 4.6 percent in 2011 to 6.2 percent in 2012. The cessation rate was 6.1 percent last year and 8.7 percent in the first quarter of this year. During the same period the success rate of smokers who tried to quit rose from 13.7 percent to 21.4 percent.

These trends, Siegel says, suggest that "electronic cigarettes are helping to accelerate smoking cessation, rather than hinder it." The researchers conclude that "evidence does not support the view that electronic cigarettes are undermining motivation to quit or reduction in smoking prevalence." The also note that "use of e-cigarettes by never smokers remains extremely rare," which deflates the fear that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking.

What about the JAMA study that supposedly showed e-cigarettes do not help smokers quit? Rachel Grana and two ther researchers at UCSF's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education interviewed 949 smokers in 2011 and again in 2012. In the first survey, 88 of the smokers reported that they had used e-cigarettes. In the second survey 10.2 percent of those smokers had quit, compared to 13.8 percent of the other subjects. Grana and her co-authors concluded that "our data add to the current evidence that e-cigarettes may not increase rates of smoking cessation."

But as Siegel points out, Grana et al. made no attempt to focus on smokers who used e-cigarettes in an effort to cut down or quit. They included any smoker who had tried the product, even if only out of curiosity. In fact, Siegel notes, the survey results indicate that "92% of the e-cigarette users in the study were not trying to quit." He concludes that the study is "complete garbage," "truly an example of bogus or junk science."

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  1. But it looks bad. And bartenders might be confused.

  2. Evidently someone didn’t get the talking points.

  3. I’m sorry, what is the margin of error for 88(!) people? It’s over 10%!

    Out of the 88, 10.2% had quit, which means 9 of them did. Had 3 more quit, it would have been 14.7%. So they based their conclusions on the decisions of 88 people, and had 3 changed their mind, they would have been “wrong”.

    Those people are idiots! Or they knew what they were doing and are evil. There isn’t another choice.

    1. Sorry, that should have been “Had 4 more quit”, not 3.

  4. That’s fucking ridiculous. They’re not even regulated! How could they help with anything?

  5. Anecdote alert: I have never been a smoker, but have recently taken up e-cigs due to their relative safety, soothing effect whilst commuting, and decent flavor. I have a number of students who do the same thing with electric hookahs and what-have-you. These types of users are not considered in this research, either.

    That being said, who gives a rats ass whether they lead smokers to quit, give smokers an alternative during times when smoking isn’t appropriate, or just give them more options? This is NOT being sold as a smoking cessation aid, it’s another way to get nicotine into the body, and until proven otherwise, a less harmful way the actual smoke.

    Don’t like it? The impetus is on you, banners, to prove it’s harmful. Not on me, the liberty advocate, to prove it’s not.

  6. I hate cigarettes and have never considered e-cigs. But that FIN ad? I am intrigued — I may start smoking tomorrow.

  7. Hoorah! Finally a decent study that proves what consumers have been shouting from the rooftops. Even though they’re not a cessation product, they’re still helping smokers to avoid lighting up, and happily so.

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