New research found that adult smokers who use e-cigarettes are 28 percent less likely to quit smoking cigarettes than adults who just smoke traditional cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered vaporizers that are used to heat and inhale nicotine and flavorings. The companies behind e-cigarettes say their products are a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes and can help smokers quit traditional cigarettes.
"While there is no question that a puff on an e-cigarette is less dangerous than a puff on a conventional cigarette, the most dangerous thing about e-cigarettes is that they keep people smoking conventional cigarettes,” said co-author Stanton A. Glantz, University of California San Francisco professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.
Glantz and a team of researchers conducted a meta-analysis on 38 studies that assessed the association between e-cigarettes and quitting smoking among smokers aged 15 and up. The studies included smokers who were interested in quitting and smokers who weren’t. The data also took demographics, past attempts to quit, and the level of nicotine dependence into consideration.
"The irony is that quitting smoking is one of the main reasons both adults and kids use e-cigarettes, but the overall effect is less, not more, quitting," said Glantz.
E-cigarettes are also promoted as a means for people to get their nicotine fix in areas where traditional cigarettes are banned. Yet, more than 430 cities and several states ban their use in smoke-free sites where traditional cigarettes are also prohibited. Similar to cigarettes, vaporizing produces second-hand effects on those who are around people vaping. One study from 2015 found that the vapor compromised immune systems in mice. It caused many mice to die by the end of the study due to their weakened immune systems.
The regulation of e-cigarettes has the potential to influence the product’s marketing and thus peoples’ reasons for using it. ”The inclusion of e-cigarettes in smoke-free laws and voluntary smoke-free policies could help decrease use of e-cigarettes as a cigarette substitute, and, perhaps, increase their effectiveness for smoking cessation,” the authors wrote. “The way e-cigarettes are available on the market - for use by anyone and for any purpose - creates a disconnect between the provision of e-cigarettes for cessation as part of a monitored clinical trial and the availability of e-cigarettes for use by the general population."
There have been no submissions to the FDA by any e-cigarette company to approve their product as effective to help smokers quit. The FDA hasn’t taken any measures against e-cigarette companies for claiming their products are effective.
The study was published today, January 14, 2016, in the journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.