E-cigarettes have had quite a lot of attention in the press over the last few months, and a recent study has suggested they can be as effective as nicotine patches for people who are looking to give up smoking.1
The New Zealand-based research was produced by the Universities of Auckland and Otago who studied a group of 657 people who had been smoking for 12 months or more and analysed the effect of "vaping" compared to the more traditional approach of NRT patches.
Battery-operated e-cigarettes have been available since 2004 and they work by vaporising nicotine, with as many as one in four people using them in an attempt to stop smoking.
The study had smokers use either patches, e-cigarettes or a placebo from one week before to 12 weeks after their chosen date to quit. The intention was to check whether smokers had been able to give up for six successfully.
Over 7% of people using e-cigarettes and around 6% of those using patches were successfully able to quit smoking for six months, with just over 4% of those using the placebo also reaching that milestone. Although the result of the e-cigarette is higher, the figures suggest there isn't a major difference in smoking cessation tactics.
The study itself was quite effective as it filled a hole in the understanding of the use of e-cigarettes, but the researchers themselves admit more work is required before a declaration of success can be made.
1. Bullen C, et al. Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation: a randomised controlled trial (577kb). The Lancet. Published online September 7 2013
Haje K, et al. Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation [commentary] (170kb). The Lancet. Published online September 7 2013