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E-cigarettes have no relapse guarantee for smokers

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Oct 22, 2021 – Ex-smokers who use e-cigarettes are just as likely to re-light themselves as those who use other nicotine alternatives, new evidence shows.

A recent study showed that people who quit smoking and then started using electronic cigarettes are just as likely to return to traditional tobacco cigarettes as people who have switched to nicotine gum and other products.

Quitting tobacco altogether was the most effective strategy. Overall, e-cigarette or other tobacco product use was linked to an 8.5% higher chance that a recently quit smoker would smoke again, compared to people who became “cold turkey”.

the to learn was born on October 19th in. released JAMA network open.

Interestingly, the results come a week after the FDA announced it first e-cigarette approval for three tobacco-flavored vaping products from Vuse. Data from manufacturer RJ Reynolds indicated that the products “could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch to these products – either entirely or with a significant reduction in cigarette consumption – by reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals,” the FDA said in a press release .

Electronic termination?

“We were very surprised at the FDA’s permission to commercialize some e-cigarettes to help smokers quit,” said John P. Pierce, PhD, lead author of the smoking relapse study.

The current paper asks a different question about e-cigarettes than two previous studies by Pierce and colleagues. A December 2020 to learn E-cigarettes rated as a long-term aid to smoking cessation. Other to learn, in September 2020, compared e-cigarette consumption, other aids, and quitting tobacco cold turkey.

But “none of our work has found any benefit from using e-cigarettes to quit,” said Pierce, professor emeritus in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego.

So the researchers decided to test whether people who have already quit smoking are more likely to return to smoking – a relapse – within a year if they switch to e-cigarettes, a product like nicotine patches, or just quit completely.

Almost every fourth person given up has switched to e-cigarettes

Pierce and colleagues examined 13,604 cigarette smokers from the US Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study. At the first annual follow-up, 9.4% had recently stopped.

Of this group of 1,228 who recently quit smoking, 37% switched to a non-cigarette tobacco product, including 23% who switched to e-cigarettes. The remaining 63% remained tobacco-free. Non-Hispanic whites, people with the highest levels of tobacco addiction, and those with annual incomes greater than $ 35,000 were more likely to switch to e-cigarettes.

To make matters worse, some people both smoke cigarettes and use e-cigarettes where smoking is not allowed. But that does not count as the goal of “reducing damage” or switching to a supposedly safer product, say Pierce and colleagues.

“The harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes requires those who successfully attempt to quit smoking to abandon cigarettes entirely and not become two-product consumers.”

A hotly debated topic

Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking continues.

The question “continues to be hotly debated,” writes Terry F. Pechacek, PhD, in a comment published with the study.

“These new results complement the growing evidence from randomized and observational studies examining the effects of e-cigarette switching on smoking cessation,” said Pechacek, professor of health management and policy at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

The study, he says, “provides additional evidence that switching to e-cigarettes in a real-world setting could lead to higher rates of relapse to smoking.”


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