A new study from the Queen Mary University of London, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, supported by Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and involving over 800 smokers, has found that e-cigarettes are almost twice as effective for giving up smoking as other nicotine replacement treatments.
So why is this a big deal?
It’s the first study to test the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as part of the standard NHS Stop Smoking Services. Which usually combine NRT products and behavioural support. Previous research has been based on randomised trials, so this study has the feeling of being a lot more robust.
More than half of the 886 triallists (who were already attending Stop Smoking Services throughout the UK) were given the NRT product of their choice (gum, patches, lozenges, sprays, etc) for up to 3 months. The other half received an e-cigarette starter pack. Everyone had the same one-to-one support for 4 weeks which they would normally receive from the NHS.
So what did the study say?
After one year 18% of the triallists using e-cigarettes were smoke-free. Compared to 10% of the NRT users, making e-cigarettes 80% more effective than NRT. Even those triallists using the e-cigarettes who hadn’t quit altogether still found they’d cut down on the number of tobacco cigarettes they smoked by at least half and had seen improvements in smoking-related symptoms such as coughing.
Plus, those using e-cigarettes were 8X more likely to be using it after a year than the NRT users.
All of this is familiar to us and we’ve long been advocates of vaping as a quitting tool. Sadly, despite the growing evidence supporting vaping as an effective stop smoking aid, and CRUK hailing this recent research as “the most convincing evidence so far”, e-cigarettes are still not available on NHS prescription.
CRUK’s Sophia Lowes had this to say: “[This] trial should give doctors, nurses, pharmacists and Stop Smoking Service advisers further confidence to recommend e-cigarettes as an effective means of quitting.”
We can only hope.