E-cigarettes may be more effective in helping smokers quit than nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and gum, according to University of Queensland research.
Lead author Dr Gary Chan from UQ’s National Centre for Youth Substance Use Research said there was increased global evidence to support the effectiveness of using e-cigarettes to assist smokers in quitting.
“Our study found e-cigarettes are 50 per cent more effective than nicotine replacement therapy, and more than 100 per cent more effective than the placebo,” Dr Chan said.
“Electronic cigarettes containing nicotine may be more effective than nicotine replacement products because they deliver a small amount of nicotine to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and provide a similar behavioural and sensory experience as smoking tobacco products.”
The study looked at 16 different smoking and vaping trials, with a total of 12,754 participants.
It assessed e-cigarettes and approved nicotine replacement therapies including nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, mouth spray, inhalators and intranasal sprays.
“We reviewed all existing evidence and compared e-cigarettes, traditional nicotine replacement therapy and placebos to find the best substitute for helping smokers quit and make lasting behavioural change,” Dr Chan said.
“Currently the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners recommends e-cigarettes as a second line treatment to support smoking cessation, however in light of our findings, this recommendation could be re-evaluated.”
The public health issue remains a global health priority – tobacco cigarettes cause more deaths than any other consumer product in human history, with more than eight million premature deaths from smoking-related diseases each year.
“We hope the findings from this study can be used to better inform policies around e-cigarettes and cigarette smoking,” he said.
“E-cigarettes have the potential to accelerate the decline of cigarette smoking.
“The evidence needs to be used to reconsider how we could harness their potential to end the cigarette smoking epidemic.”