The Effectiveness of Electronic Cigarettes as a Quit Smoking Product
Despite increasing regulation of electronic cigarettes and even calls to ban them in U.S. and countries of European Union, they have become increasingly popular. In UK alone, it is estimated that there are 1.5 million electronic cigarette users.
The electronic cigarettes – which are also known as the e-cigarettes or electric cigarettes – are battery operated devices that are similar in appearance to traditional tobacco cigarettes and are used to quit smoking. Instead of smoke, e-cigarettes produce a vapor that is inhaled and exhaled in a similar manner to normal tobacco smoke. The vapor is composed of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and food flavor. The contemporary incarnation of the device – it was invented in 1963 but never mass produced – was developed in China in 2003 by a pharmacist whose father died of lung cancer.
Partly due to the relative newness, there is limited scientific research into the efficiency and effectiveness of this product as a quit smoking aid. Some research, however, has been undertaken. The researchers of the Boston University School of Public Health have conducted one such piece in 2010. In the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, this team of researchers has published in 2011: (Michael B. Siegel, Kerry L. Tanwar & Kathleen S. Wood (2011) Electronic cigarettes as a smoking-cessation tool: Results from an online survey, American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 40(40), 472-475). It was found that 31% of survey respondents stated that they had successfully stopped smoking for a six month period with the assistance of the e-cigarette, a figure that is significantly higher than the quitting rate for more traditional nicotine replacement therapies such as gums, lozenges, patches and puffers, which have a success rate of between 12 and 18%.
At the University of East London a more recent research has been conducted and it shows that 86% of participants, as the result of using e-cigarettes, had not smoked tobacco cigarettes from several weeks or months. About 75% of participants reported that they used electronic cigarettes to stop smoking, while 22% said that they started to use this device for various reasons, for example to get around smoking prohibitions on a plane, in pubs, clubs and restaurants. The research of this team has been published in the journal Addiction (Lynne Dawkins, John Turner, Amanda Roberts & Kirstie Soar (2013) ‘Vaping’ profiles and preferences: An online survey of electronic cigarette users, Addiction, 108(6) 1115-1125).
Scientific research, as well as anecdotal evidence from the tens of thousands of people who have quit smoking with the aid of the electric cigarette, suggest that it might be the most effective quit smoking product available on the market.
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