Vaping More Effective That NRT at Helping People Quit Smoking, Scientific Review Finds
Cochrane, one of the world’s most respected evidence-based medical organizations, recently published its 2020 review of electronic cigarettes, concluding that they are more effective at helping people quit smoking than conventional nicotine therapies.
Cochrane’s researchers set out “to find out if using e-cigarettes could help people to stop smoking, and if people using them for this purpose experienced any unwanted effects”. To do this, they searched for studies that looked at the use of e-cigarettes to help people stop smoking, particularly randomized controlled trials, in which the treatments people received were decided at random, as these usually give the most reliable evidence.
Researchers analyzed 50 studies which included a total of 12,430 adults who smoked, and compared electronic cigarettes with various other smoking cessation aids: conventional nicotine replacement therapies like patches of gum, varenicline, nicotine-free e-cigarettes, behavioral support, as well no support for quitting smoking.
After analyzing the studies, Cochrane’s researchers concluded that “more people probably stop smoking for at least six months using nicotine e-cigarettes than using nicotine replacement therapy or nicotine-free ecigarettes” and that ” e-cigarettes may help more people to stop smoking than no support or behavioral support only”.
“For every 100 people using nicotine e-cigarettes to stop smoking, 10 might successfully stop, compared with only six of 100 people using nicotine-replacement therapy or nicotine-free e-cigarettes, or four of 100 people having no support or behavioral support only,” the latest Cochrane review of electronic cigarettes found.
Because their review was based on a small number of studies, the measured data of which varied widely, researchers declared themselves only moderately confident of their findings, namely that “nicotine e-cigarettes help more people to stop smoking than nicotine replacement therapy or nicotine-free e-cigarettes”.
“There is moderate-certainty evidence that ECs (electronic cigarettes) with nicotine increase quit rates compared to ECs without nicotine and compared to NRT. Evidence comparing nicotine EC with usual care/no treatment also suggests benefit, but is less certain. More studies are needed to confirm the degree of effect, particularly when using modern EC products.”
The findings of this latest Cochrane review have been praised by public health and tobacco control experts in the UK for confirming what many of us have known for a long time – that electronic cigarettes can help people quit, and that they are more effective at doing that than conventional nicotine therapies.
“This comprehensive review of all data on the efficacy of electronic cigarettes in helping people to quit provides definitive confirmation that electronic cigarettes offer smokers an effective means of quitting, and perhaps even more so than some licensed stop smoking medicines,” Prof. John Britton, Emeritus Professor of Respiratory Medicine, University of Nottingham, said.
“This review, conducted by a of well-respected international experts, now expands on previous conclusions by finding that e-cigarettes not only increase quit rates compared with placebo but also with active treatment, namely standard nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as nicotine patches,” Prof Lion Shahab, from University College London commented.
“The results of this new review of randomized trials of vaping tally with other evidence from cohort and epidemiological studies, suggesting that for many smokers, e-cigarettes represent an effective tool for quitting smoking,” Prof Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, said. “It is also important to note that the studies detected no evidence of harm from vaping in people using e-cigarettes for up to two years.”