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E-Cigarettes May Be as Effective as Nicotine Patches for Smoking Cessation — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
September 9, 2013

E-Cigarettes May Be as Effective as Nicotine Patches for Smoking Cessation

By Kelly Young

Electronic cigarettes that deliver vaporized nicotine could be as effective for smoking cessation as nicotine patches, according to a study in the Lancet.

Roughly 650 adult smokers who wanted to quit were randomized to one of three treatments, to be taken as needed for 12 weeks: 16 mg nicotine e-cigarettes, 21 mg nicotine patches, or placebo e-cigarettes that did not contain nicotine. Participants could also access a telephone counseling service. At 6 months, all three groups had similar quit rates (4% to 7%). Significantly more people in the nicotine e-cigarette group than the patch group had halved their cigarette consumption by 6 months (57% vs. 41%).

Calling the work "a pioneering study," albeit one with limitations, a commentator concludes that "health professionals will now hopefully feel easier about recommending e-cigarettes to smokers, or at least condoning their use."

Reader Comments (5)

ciro kirchenchtejn Physician, Pulmonary Medicine, unifesp

The editor should take care about the title of the article. It induces to believe tha ecigarrets maybe helpful. But it showed que the nicotine replacement therapy wans’t effective. 4 to 7 % of succes is the result of placebo in well conducted protocols.

Eileen Barrett, MD, MPH

The quoted commentator is overstating the results of this study. Not only are e-cigarettes not approved by the FDA and not known to be safe, but even the actual study states "uncertainty exists about the place of e-cigarettes in tobacco control."

Chris Medical Student, Allergy/Immunology

I think that e juice will prove to be the next big thing in the world of smoking cessation. There are people who do not smoke cigarettes who enjoy the vaporizer experience, similar to hookah without the tobacco. I think it's great.

Anne Stern, RPh Other Healthcare Professional, Unspecified, ANW hospital, Mpls MN

These comments are my own, and do not not necesarily agree those of my employer.
Patches may still be safer for those around the smoker who is trying to quit as at least one study shows that the there is second hand nicotine produced from e-cigarettes just as there is from normal smoked cigarettes. Not to mention second hand metals and propylene glycol.
I'd be interested to see how much proplyene glycol the the e-smoker and those around him/her are inhaling. Most of what I've found is quite old or is put out by e-cigarette companies. Have there been any cases of lactic acidosis from the chronic and heavy use involved in e-smoking? Have we even thought about it?

Doris Dabish, BA, MA Other Healthcare Professional, Pulmonary Medicine

e-cigarettes do not disclose their exact chemical ingredients/make-up. they are no safe alternative in my opinion.

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