A new study from University College London has found that while engaging with NHS smoking cessation services is the most successful way to give up smoking, the use of E-Cigarettes is more effective than nicotine replacement therapy in addition to being more effective than stopping with no replacement at all.
The growing popularity of E-Cigarettes has become a problem for some; health organisations, governments and some retailers are wading in to the argument that E-Cigarettes potentially normalise smoking and could make it attractive to children; however, supporters and research points to the fact that the vast majority of those who use E-Cigarettes only do so as a method kicking the tobacco habit.
Professor Robert West of the department of epidemiology and public health pointed out the importance of research. “It really could affect literally millions of lives. We need to know.” he said.
Professor West acknowledged that the area is not without some controversy and said that whilst his department do accept income from pharmaceutical companies which make smoking cessation drugs they do not take any funds from E-Cigarette manufacturers. “I need to be able to talk about E-Cigarettes without even the conception of conflict of interest.”
The study looked at people who had ceased smoking between July 2009 and February 2014 and found that a growing proportion of them were using E-Cigarettes rather than nicotine replacements such as gum or patches. A large group of those in the study tried to stop without support and those who cut out cigarettes completely have more success than those who attempt to cut down.
When the study was complete and the numbers adjusted to account for age and other variables it was found that those participants who used E-Cigarettes were 60% more likely to give up than those who didn’t.
Professor West said that there is confusion about E-Cigarettes in general. “Despite what a lot of people think, E-Cigarettes are not good news for the tobacco industry and the tobacco industry would like them to go away. They sell tobacco and they would like to go on doing that.” he said.
The European Commission’s stance on the subject is that E-Cigarettes should be regulated as consumer products as long as they are below a certain strength. The trouble with this is that in order for E-Cigarettes to be a successful aid in the cessation of smoking, they need to be on the higher side.
Two tobacco companies have already applied to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) to gain licences for this which is worrying; smaller companies which are making E-Cigarettes are not in financial positions to manage a costly procedure like the licensing process…unlike the rich tobacco companies.
In an ideal world Professor West would like to see the NHS supporting the use of E-Cigarettes and this won’t happen unless the products were MHRA licensed. Currently, the only real opposers to E-Cigarettes are unsurprisingly the tobacco companies which make billions from people’s addictions and the smoking cessation drug manufacturers whose sales are sliding on a daily basis as more and more people turn to E-Cigarettes in their battle to quit the habit.