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The Role of Nicotine E-Cigarettes in Smoking Cessation: An Investigation

A new comprehensive review of hundreds of studies and more than 150,000 people found that nicotine e-cigarettes are among the most effective options to help smokers quit long term.

Equally effective in helping people stop smoking were the drugs varenicline (otherwise known as Chantix) and cytisine, closely followed by two types of nicotine replacement therapy at the same time, for example, a nicotine patch and gum, according to the findings, published September 12, 2023, in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Fewer Americans Smoke, but Cigarettes Are Still the Leading Cause of Preventable Death

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, causing close to 1 in 5 deaths a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If you smoke quitting cigarettes is the best thing you can do for your health, said Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, PhD, a coauthor of the study and an assistant professor of health policy and management in the school of public health and health sciences at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, in a press release. “Our findings provide clear evidence of the effectiveness of nicotine e-cigarettes and combination nicotine replacement therapies to help people quit smoking. The evidence also is clear on the benefits of medicines cytisine and varenicline, but these may be harder for some people to access at the moment,” she said.

U.S. cigarette smoking has fallen over the past several decades and is at an all-time low — about 11 percent of adults are current smokers, compared with 42 percent in the mid-1960s, according to preliminary findings from the National Health Survey.

But the number of electronic cigarette smokers keeps climbing, with about 1 in 17 adults using the devices.

E-Cigarettes, Drugs, and NRT Can Double the Success Rate of Quitting

To compare the benefits and potential harms of different smoking cessation tools, researchers analyzed data from more than 300 clinical trials that included more than 150,000 people.

It’s estimated that about 6 in 100 people will be successful at quitting smoking without using any kind of aid, according to the authors. The analysis found that around 14 of 100 people successfully quit smoking by using a nicotine e-cigarette, varenicline, or cytisine in any given attempt to quit. Quitting was defined as no smoking for at least six months.