Study: E-cigarettes don’t help people quit smoking

E-cigarettes may not be helpful for people who want to quit smoking, an analysis of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) cohort showed.

Among survey respondents who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking before 2017, 9.9% successfully abstained from smoking for more than 12 months, which was lower than those who used e-cigarettes. nicotine replacement (NRT) or pharmaceutical aid only (15.2%) and for those who used no product in their quit attempt (18.6%), reported John Pierce, PhD, of the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues.

Those who used e-cigarettes in their last quit attempt had a significantly lower 12-month abstinence rate than those who used any other method (adjusted risk difference [aRD] -7.7, 95% CI -12.2 to -3.2) and compared to those using NRT or pharmaceutical aid (aRD -7.3, 95% CI -14.4 to -0 ,4), they noted in tobacco control.

Of those who tried to quit before 2017, 12.6% said they had used e-cigarettes the last time they tried to quit, up from 17.4% in previous years. By comparison, 20.6% used only NRT or a pharmaceutical aid, and 64.3% used no quit smoking aid.

Despite this, quarterly e-cigarette retail sales reached over $400 million at the end of 2017, double what they were 2 years ago and 20 times what they were in 2011.

The 2019 PATH survey found a resurgence in e-cigarette use among recent former smokers, with 22% e-cigarette users compared to 15.3% in 2017. One-fifth of these recent former smokers used e-cigarettes. high nicotine electronic cigarettes.

However, the perception that e-cigarettes were less harmful than traditional cigarettes fell from 23.8% in 2016 to 16.4% in 2019.

A previous review of randomized clinical trials suggested that e-cigarettes added four successful quitting cigarettes per 100 quit attempts compared to users of pharmaceutical aids. However, in the current study, e-cigarettes were associated with seven fewer successful quits per 100 quit attempts, Pierce and colleagues pointed out, and previous analyzes of the PATH cohort did not find that e -cigarettes help smokers quit.

Last year, the FDA banned flavored e-cigarettes, which can entice children to vape, but approved its first e-cigarette with tobacco-flavored cartridges in October.

In 2017, JUUL – which accounted for 40% of the e-cigarette retail market share at the end of 2017 – launched a marketing campaign supposedly aimed at adults, after being the subject of a scrutiny for the colorful ads it had run since its inception in 2015.

“Our analysis suggests that JUUL marketing campaigns in 2017 were not effective in encouraging smokers to use JUUL products to help with quit attempts, contrary to their effectiveness in encouraging young people to initiate use. nicotine with their products,” Pierce and his team wrote.

Less than 2% of those who said they had switched to e-cigarettes in 2017 said they had used JUUL e-cigarettes, they reported.

Study details

This longitudinal analysis used data from the fourth and fifth survey waves (in 2017 and 2019, respectively) of the PATH cohort, a nationally representative cohort of tobacco users. In 2017, 27,757 adults were surveyed and 6,065 new participants were added to the cohort to “adjust attrition and reset the sample size of the cohort,” Pierce and his team noted. The weighted response rate for the reenactment screening survey was just over 50%, and the response rates for the 2017 and 2019 surveys were 68% and 88%, respectively.

There was no difference between the continuing cohort and the reconstitution cohort in key measures, the study group said.

Current and recent former smokers were asked about their smoking habits, whether they had tried to quit in the past 12 months, and what products they used. It should be noted that the study included those who use e-cigarettes or other tobacco products in their definition of abstinence from cigarettes, while abstinence from tobacco was defined as abstinence from all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes.

Pierce and his colleagues acknowledged that their study was observational and therefore may have unmeasured confounding variables.

  • Lei Lei Wu is an editor for Medpage Today. She is based in New Jersey. To follow


This study was supported by grants from the NIH and the University of California.

The authors reported no competing interests.

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