Smoking is the leading cause of cancer and lung disease, and there are an estimated 45 million Americans who smoke. Smoking can also reduce life expectancies by a decade. The dangers of smoking are well known and according to the Centers for Disease Control 70% of smokers would like to quit smoking, but are simply unable to do so.
Tools for Quitting
With the rise in the popularity of e-cigarettes, researchers have been focusing on their usefulness as a possible tool to quit smoking. Smokers who try to quit ‘cold turkey’ have a success rate of less than 10%. Despite the widespread availability of nicotine patches and gum, and even counselling, three fourths of smokers who used those products return to smoking within a year.
Treatments meant to help quit smoking are designed to help smokers gradually wean themselves off of nicotine, or end cravings. Usually this is done via patches or chewing gum delivering nicotine. There are non nicotine treatments also available, which serve as nicotine blockers in the brain. However, FDA studies show that many such treatments only have a limited degree of success regarding cessation of smoking.
It is believed that using e-cigarettes as a tool for cessation addresses the cues that prompt smoking. E-cigarettes are battery powered devices shaped to resemble cigarettes, through which users inhale small doses of nicotine. As per a 2010 study published in the Journal of Public Health Policy, the carcinogen levels found in e-cigarettes is about one thousandth of the level found in regular cigarette smoke.
Two trial studies have been conducted with e-cigarettes which showed how effective they were as a tool for cessation. One of the studies only looked at a group of 300 smokers, in which 9 of them quit smoking altogether. Of the 9 who quit, 6 had used e-cigarettes. A smaller study that had been previously conducted showed that approximately two thirds of the participants wanted to continue using e-cigarettes as a plan to quit smoking. This study had a quit rate of just over 22%. However, it only had 40 participants.
It is clear that while initial results from early studies show promise, there is still more than one way to quit. A multi faceted approach needs to be taken regarding smoking cessation programs.
Doubtless more research will have to be done to determine the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a tool for cessation, and such research will need to be on a larger scale. Ultimately, e-cigarettes are a good tool which can be used with different techniques, such as counselling or other existing products, to help smokers quit the smoking habit for good.
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