A recent study suggests that e-cigarettes may actually hijack your plans to quit smoking. Researchers at San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education found that e-cigs lower rates for quitting smoking by about 28 percent.
The findings come as a surprise since the industry has touted the electronic devices as a means to kick the habit for years. The study, which was published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine Journal, found that smoke cessation rates were considerably lower among e-cigarette users than in non-users.
Stanton Glantz, lead author of the study, noted that though the devices are marketed as a way to quit smoking, in reality they have the opposite effect.
Electronic cigarettes are also marketed as healthier alternatives to regular cigarettes because, manufacturers say, smokers are no longer exposed to carcinogenic substances in smoke. Instead nicotine is heated to generate a flavored vapor to be inhaled by users.
But although the general public easily fell for these claims, the medical community remained suspicious. Late last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said that there wasn’t enough evidence to back the claims.
In their research, Glantz and his fellow researchers reviewed all studies on the topic that they could find. Study authors explained that they did not cherry-pick just a handful of studies. In fact they sifted through anything on cigarette cessation and e-cigs.
They analyzed 20 studies that have compared groups of smokers who tried to quit smoking with help from e-cigarettes with control groups of smokers who tried to quit but without the devices.
The studies revealed that the groups that used e-cigarettes were 28 percent less likely to quit smoking than groups that did not employ the devices. The findings remained consistent even after study authors adjusted them for other factors that may interfere with cigarette cessation efforts such as age and nicotine dependence.
Nevertheless, the recent review paper was met with a dose of skepticism. Ann McNeill, one of the authors of the scrutinized studies, recently said that the findings should be dismissed because her work, which was included in the review paper, might have not taken into consideration people that quit smoking with the aid of e-cigarettes.
But others welcomed the new findings. For instance, American Lung Association’s Norman Edelman, MD, noted that e-cigarettes have the major drawback that they keep users addicted to nicotine. Additionally, users are encouraged to use the electronic devices in free-smoke places rendering smoke cessation laws void of content.
“That’s the opposite of cessation. That’s encouraging ongoing addiction,”
Dr. Edelman noted.
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