E-cigarettes as a Quitting Aid
One of the most common problems with habit-changing – such as quitting smoking – is the lack of immediate results. Discouraged by the challenges of the first few days or weeks (cravings, fidgeting, grouchiness etc.), smokers often relapse; disheartened and defeated.
However, according to a comprehensive new study, vaping can have a positive effect on the life of a smoker trying to quit within as little as one month.
The paper, recently presented at the 2015 American Thoracic Society International Conference, finds that “e-cigarettes have been shown to significantly improve abstinence at one month” when compared to placebo electronic smokes.
“Lead author Riyad al-Lehebi and his University of Toronto colleagues searched two medical databases’ worth of previous studies – 4,569 abstracts identified – coming back with 297 articles and then whittling them down to 2 randomised trials and 2 uncontrolled before-and-after studies.
“Their findings, published under the title ‘Efficacy and Safety of Electronic Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation: A Systematic Review,’ showed that e-cigarettes can make a significant difference for those seeking to abstain from traditional forms of smoking, at least over an initial month-long period.”
Incubation period required
Some have warned that one month is only short term, but that number is tantalisingly close to the famous three-to-six weeks it takes to copper-fasten a new habit (as discussed at length here). Sadly, positive studies of all stripes (not just about e-smoking) are always met with cynicism in some corners.
Critics of these studies (and vaping in general) often complain that vaping either takes too long to have an effect, or that the effect is short-term – ignoring the possibility that for many smokers, vaping is both a fast-moving and long-lasting quitting tool.
This cynical mindset, incidentally, is commonly known as “the Nirvana Fallacy” – the belief that if something isn’t perfect in every way from the get-go, it shouldn’t be attempted at all.
Looking beyond academic studies and towards consumer statistics, there’s more compelling evidence that vaping is both an immediate and substantial quitting tool. News has recently emerged that 2.6 million people in the UK alone have made the switch from smoking to vaping. Undercover California reports that: “Electronic cigarette use has increased among ex-smokers from 4.5% in 2014 to 6.7% in 2015. As many as 48% [of] people started e-smoking because they wanted to quit [the] smoking habit forever. Another reason was to prevent them from again… [entering] into this vicious circle.”
Advocates for the future
Thankfully, there are highly accomplished members of the medical community who share our opinion. Professor of Cardiology Holly Middlekauf argues in Med Page Today argues (as we do) that regulation, not scaremongering is the answer:
“Data supports the concept that complete smoking cessation, ‘the endgame,’ is the goal. One means to put an end to cigarette smoking would be the availability of a replacement product that mimics cigarette smoking behaviors, and which also satisfies nicotine addiction, but without the >5000 potentially toxic particulates and gases.
“Rather than banning this potentially beneficial clean nicotine delivery device that has the potential to save 500,000+ lives [per] year in the U.S. alone, e-cigarettes should be required to meet product standards and safety requirements, with full disclosure of all ingredients, and subject to pre- and post-marketing FDA testing.”
Although the arguments made in the above research are compelling, there is a long journey to convince the non-believers ahead of us.