Evidence that electronic cigarettes can help smokers to quit

Wednesday 17 December 2014

The internationally renowned Cochrane Library has reviewed the evidence and concluded that smokers who use electronic cigarettes can quit or reduce their smoking. [1] The review draws on two randomised trials comprising a total of 662 current smokers. It found that about 9% of smokers who had used electronic cigarettes were able to stop smoking at up to one year. This compares with around 4% of smokers who used nicotine-free placebo electronic cigarettes.

Among smokers who had not quit, researchers found that 36% of electronic cigarette users reduced their consumption of tobacco cigarettes by half. This compared with 28% of users who were given placebos. One of the trials compared the efficacy of electronic cigarettes with nicotine patches and found similar results.

Cochrane’s Editor in Chief David Tovey said that this was an important study but cautioned that further research would be needed, particularly to review the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes compared to other ways of stopping smoking.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

“Cochrane reviews are world renowned for their systematic analysis of the evidence. Electronic cigarettes are used by millions of smokers in the UK but the risks and benefits have been heavily disputed. This timely review indicates that that these products have a role to play in helping smokers quit. It should stimulate more research, which is just what is needed in this important area of public health which has the potential to save so many lives.”



[1] McRobbie H, Bullen C, Hartmann-Boyce J, Hajek P. Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation and reduction. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD010216. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010216.pub2.

URL Upon publication: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/14651858.CD010216.pub2

[2] The Cochrane Library is published by Wiley on behalf of The Cochrane Collaboration and can be accessed at: www.thecochranelibrary.com

The Cochrane Collaboration
Cochrane is a global independent network of researchers, health professionals and consumers of healthcare; carers, advocates and people interested in health. It responds to the challenge of making the vast amounts of evidence generated through research useful for informing decisions about health. Cochrane is a not-for profit organisation with collaborators from over 120 countries working together to produce credible, accessible health information that is free from commercial sponsorship and other conflicts of interest. www.cochrane.org.

[3] Surveys published by ASH and the UK Government have also found that users of electronic cigarettes are almost exclusively current smokers or ex-smokers and that people are using the devices to help them cut down or quit smoking. Usage among people who have never smoked remains negligible.
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