Vaping is somewhat controversial because of concerns it may lead some to start smoking tobacco, but researchers in England say electronic cigarettes are helping people quit lighting up.
E-cigarettes were linked to about 18,000 people beating their cigarette addictions in England last year based on increases in their use and decreases in smoking, report researchers at University College London.
Their study, published in the British Medical Journal, is based on data collected by the Smoking Toolkit Study and the English National Health Service’s stop smoking services, which provides help for people looking to quit, including patches, prescription drugs and general support.
Despite concerns that vaping may increase the likelihood of smoking, British researchers say studies have shown making the switch from burning tobacco to vaporizing liquids has reduced the number of smokers in the country and improved overall health there.
While the new study is based on estimates using data on surveys and services distributed, the researchers say the role of e-cigarettes in helping people quit needs to be acknowledged and explored for use with more people struggling with a smoking habit.
“E-cigarettes can play a role in helping people quit and the evidence so far shows e-cigarettes are much safer than tobacco,” Alison Cox, director of cancer prevention at Cancer Research UK, said in a press release. “This study shows the positive impact they’ve had on helping people give up the deadly addiction.”
For the study, researchers analyzed data from the Smoking Toolkit Study on 170,490 people over age 16 who reported their smoking status quarterly from 2006 to 2015. Of the participants, 41,301 were past year smokers and 37,765 were current smokers, and during the course of the study, 8,029,012 quit dates were set by smoking participants.
During the study period, researchers found an overall increase in the success rate of those reporting a quit attempt, as well as significant increases in the reported use of e-cigarettes to quit — for every 1 percent increase in e-cigarette use, the success of quit attempts increased by 0.098 percent
“England is sometimes singled out as being too positive in its attitude to e-cigarettes,” said Robert West, a professor at University College London’s Health Behavior Research Center. “These data suggest that our relatively liberal regulation of e-cigarettes is probably justified.”