New Study Casts Doubt On E-Cigarettes’ Long-Term Ability To Break Smoking Addiction

By: Rachael Rettner
Published: May 18, 2015 07:27pm ET on LiveScience.

Some electronic cigarette companies say that their products help people quit smoking, but the evidence to back up this claim is lacking, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed information from more than 1,000 people who took part in four previous studies that looked at whether e-cigarettes can improve quitting rates.

After one month, a greater percentage of people who used e-cigarettes had quit smoking, compared with the percentage of people who used a placebo or a nicotine patch. However, after three to six months, there was no difference in the quitting rates among people who smoked e-cigarettes, compared with those who took a placebo or used a nicotine patch.

“Although e-cigarettes are widely promoted and used as a smoking cessation tool, we found no data supporting their long-term efficacy,” study researcher Dr. Riyad Al-Lehebi, of the University of Toronto, said in a statement.

E-cigarettes do not burn tobacco. Instead, they vaporize nicotine, and the user then inhales the vapor. [4 Myths About E-Cigarettes]

The new findings agree with a 2014 study that found that people who used e-cigarettes in addition to regular cigarettes were no more likely to quit smoking a year later than those who did not use the electronic devices.

A review of 18 studies on e-cigarette safety also found that users sometimes experience side effects, such as a dry cough, throat irritation and shortness of breath. Use of e-cigarettes was also linked with a greater risk of serious problems such as lung inflammation and irregular heart beat — compared with using a nicotine patch while trying to quit smoking.

“Given the potential health risks of using these unproven and unregulated devices, individuals seeking help with smoking cessation should consider other, more well-established options until more research is performed,” Al-Lehebi —> Read More