E-cigarettes are more effective than nicotine replacement treatments in achieving long term smoking reduction and cessation, according to the results of a clinical trial by Queen Mary University of London
Some 80 per cent of smokers receiving intensive treatment continue to smoke after a year. Smokers could benefit from approaches that reduce the harm from smoking without ceasing nicotine use, with an option to stop nicotine later on. Nicotine replacement treatments (NRT), such as nicotine patches, chewing gum, nasal/mouth spray and inhalators, have been licenced to do this for over 30 years. They work, especially if behavioural support is also provided, but the results are modest.
In the first study of its kind, researchers enrolled 135 smokers who had been unable to stop smoking with conventional treatments. They were randomised to receive either an eight-week supply of NRT of their choice, or an e-cigarette starter pack, with instructions to purchase further e-liquids of strength and flavours of their choosing for themselves. Products were accompanied by minimal behavioural support to quit smoking.
The results, published in the journal Addiction, found a significant difference in smoking reduction (including quitting altogether) in the e-cigarette group. After six months, in the e-cigarette group, 27 per cent of the participants had reduced their smoking by at least half, compared to 6 per cent of participants in the NRT group. A significant difference was also found in rates of stopping smoking altogether, confirmed by carbon monoxide readings from participants’ breath – 19 per cent of participants in the e-cigarette group had stopped smoking versus 3 per cent in the NRT group.
Queen Mary University of London – 2021-06-29.