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Enough evidence to support e-cigarettes as smoking cessation aid: study

February 24, 2023

Photo: iStock

A new study has recommended the adoption of electronic cigarettes, or vapes, as an effective tool for treating adult smokers’ nicotine addiction.

Kenneth Warner, the Avedis Donabedian Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, said there is enough evidence to support e-cigarettes’ use as a first-line aid for smoking cessation in adults.

“Far too many adults who want to quit smoking are unable to do so,” Warner said. “E-cigarettes constitute the first new tool to help them in decades. Yet relatively few smokers and indeed health care professionals appreciate their potential value.”

In a study published in Nature Medicine, Warner and colleagues, including Ann McNeill of the National Addiction Centre, King’s College London, took a global view of vaping, examining countries that promote vaping as a smoking cessation and countries that don’t.

While agencies in the US and Canada acknowledge the potential benefit of e-cigarette use, they deem the evidence to recommend e-cigarettes for smoking cessation as insufficient, according to the authors.

However, in the UK and New Zealand there is high-level support and promotion of e-cigarettes as a first-line smoking cessation treatment option.

“We believe that governments, medical professional groups and individual health care professionals in countries such as the US, Canada and Australia should give greater consideration to the potential of e-cigarettes for increasing smoking cessation,” Warner said. “E-cigarettes are not the magic bullet that will end the devastation wrought by cigarette smoking, but they can contribute to that lofty public health goal.”

Warner’s previous research has found considerable evidence suggesting e-cigarettes are an effective smoking-cessation tool for adults in the US, where hundreds of thousands of people die of smoking-related illness each year.

In addition to evaluating differences in regulatory activities across countries, the researchers examined evidence that vaping increases smoking cessation, the health consequences of e-cigarettes and the implications for clinical care.

They also cite the Food and Drug Administration’s designating some e-cigarette brands as “appropriate for the protection of the public health”—the standard required to receive approval for marketing. This action, the researchers say, implies indirectly that the FDA believes e-cigarettes can help some individuals quit smoking who would not do so otherwise.

Warner and colleagues concluded that “acceptance of the promotion of e-cigarettes as a tool for smoking cessation will likely depend on continuing efforts to reduce access to, and use of, the products by young people who have never smoked. The two objectives can and should co-exist.”