A recent survey has suggested that e-cigarettes are just as effective as traditional nicotine patches in helping smokers to kick the habit. The research examined the number of people who gave up smoking for more than six months without lapsing. The survey revealed that this was achieved by a slightly greater number of people using e-cigarettes than those who opted for nicotine patches or a dummy e-cigarette which contained no nicotine.
Researchers were cautious about the results of the survey however and the difference in the quit rates of the different groups was very small and were actually significantly lower than had been anticipated. It was concluded that a degree of uncertainty surrounds the use of e-cigarettes as an aid to quitting smoking and their health effects are still relatively unresearched.
Medical journal, The Lancet, considered that the New Zealand based trial was well designed and executed and acknowledges the importance of the research question because of the health benefits of quitting and the increased popularity of e-cigarettes in recent years.
It was interesting to note that the people using e-cigarettes during the trial took longer to relapse than the other participants and when they did, they smoked fewer cigarettes than the other groups.
So, all in all e-cigarettes came out narrowly ahead but celebrations were muted. There are still concerns around the lack of research into the health effects of e-cigarettes. Although users are not inhaling smoke with its nasty cocktail of poisonous gasses, they are still taking in nicotine which is highly addictive. Liquid nicotine, as contained in the e-cigarettes, has not yet been adequately tested for safety according to the World Health Organisation and other health associations and it is therefore wrong of manufacturers to lead users to believe that the products are a safe choice.
There are also concerns that e-cigarettes may actually be hindering people who genuinely want to give up smoking as they may choose these in preference to something which has been tested for safety and is proven to be effective, like nicotine patches, gum or nasal sprays. Another worry is that people may actually increase their nicotine consumption because e-cigarettes are as yet not banned from restaurants, pubs, shops etc.
So, as yet the jury is still out. But one thing’s for certain; e-cigarettes are here to stay in a big way and anything that can wean smokers off tobacco and the harmful chemicals contained in its smoke has to be a good thing.