E-cigarettes may help smokers quit even if they don't intend to, study finds

Daily electronic cigarette use may help smokers quit traditional cigarettes, according to a new study. Photo by Lindsay Fox/Wikimedia Commons
Daily electronic cigarette use may help smokers quit traditional cigarettes, according to a new study. Photo by Lindsay Fox/Wikimedia Commons

Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Daily electronic cigarette use motivates smokers to transition from traditional cigarettes, even if they have no plans to quit the habit, a study published Tuesday by JAMA Network Open found.

Among 1,600 active smokers who had no intention to quit at the start of the study, 28% who used e-cigarette, or vaping, devices daily stopped smoking traditional cigarettes within 12 months, the data showed.


Meanwhile, just under 6% of those who did not use e-cigarettes daily quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

Daily e-cigarette users in the study were eight times more likely to quit smoking traditional cigarettes than non-daily users, according to the researchers.

"For daily cigarette smokers who may have written off quitting, our findings suggest that daily vaping may give some of these smokers hope to quit smoking for good and be a viable pathway out of smoking," study co-author Karin Kasza told UPI in an email.

"How can vaping do that? We speculate in this group of cigarette smokers ... that some will realize that they may be able to go a day without smoking a cigarette because they are getting their nicotine from vaping," said Kasza, a research scientist Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y.


About 45 million people in the United States smoke regularly, including about 5 million middle and high school-age teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of these tobacco users, about one in four vapes, the agency estimates.

Earlier studies that investigated the potential benefits of vaping devices as a tool for helping smokers quit produced mixed results.

For example, research published last year found that the devices helped adults quit, but actually encouraged young people to take up the habit.

For this study, Kasza and her colleagues studied the effects of vaping on smoking cessation on nearly 2,500 adult daily cigarette smokers who were not using e-cigarettes and had no plans to ever quit smoking at the start of the research.

Among the participants, 38% smoked 20 to 29 cigarettes per day and 13% smoked 30 or more cigarettes per day, the researchers said.

Nearly 2,300 of the study participants began using e-cigarettes daily at the start of the study, while the remainder did not.

Just over 6% of the participants discontinued cigarette smoking by the end of the study, researchers said.

"Sufficient nicotine dosing likely matters a lot, both the amount and frequency so that it effectively reduces the cravings smokers' experience when they are trying to stop smoking," Kasza said.


"This is why we think that only daily vaping was associated with cigarette cessation," she said.

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