Regulations could make e-cigarettes less effective for smoking cessation: Study

Canada and Australia have imposed new restrictions on the sale and use of electronic cigarettes.
By Amy Wallace   |   April 5, 2017 at 10:13 AM
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April 5 (UPI) -- A recent study has shown that regulations imposed by certain countries may impact the effectiveness of using electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.

The use of E-cigarettes is on the rise worldwide and been the subject of debate on whether E-cigarettes are less harmful that regular cigarettes. Many people switch to E-cigarettes as a step-down smoking cessation tool to help them quit smoking.

Current evidence suggests E-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes but studies have not been conducted on their long-term effects.

Researchers analyzed data from the International Tobacco Control Four Country Survey from 2010 to 2014 of more than 1,700 smokers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

At the time of the study, Canada and Australia had imposed significant restrictions on the sale and use of e-cigarettes, while the United States and United Kingdom had few restrictions.

Researchers compared quit attempts, cessation aids used and the length of smoking abstinence between the two sets of countries and found that sustained smoking cessation using e-cigarettes was more common in countries with less regulations than countries with significant regulations.

The United States and United Kingdom reported 73 percent of quitting attempts resulted in sustained cigarette cessation while only 32 percent were reported in Canada and Australia.

"The benefits of ECs [electronic cigarettes] for smoking cessation may be limited to those who reside in an environment where there are few restrictions on the retail sale and marketing of ECs," Dr. Hua-Hie Yong, of the Cancer Council Victoria, said in a press release. "Developing an appropriate regulatory framework for ECs should be a priority so that the benefit of ECs for smoking cessation can be realized. Where the regulatory environment supports it, given the popularity of ECs, smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit using current approved methods should be offered the option of using ECs as short-term aids to quit smoking or replacing smoking with ECs for harm reduction purposes."

The study was published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

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