According to researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center, there is finally an increase in the smoking cessation rate. The study finds that more people using e-cigarettes are responsible for quitting smoking and these electronic devices can actually help reduce the traditional smoking rates. The study was published yesterday in the British Medical Journal. Researchers looked at data from a national survey and large population based study between 2001 and 2015.
Vaping device: Image Credit: LezinAV / Shutterstock
The study showed that the yearly rate of individuals who quit smoking has been around 4.5% for years. In their survey over 15 years, only at the end – 2014-15, the Current Population Survey-Tobacco Use Supplement (CPS-TUS) survey has shown the smoking cessation rate to be 5.6%. The percentage rise of 1.1% translates to approximately 350,000 smokers who quit smoking over a year explain researchers and this is not a small number.
Lead researcher Shu-Hong Zhu, UC San Diego Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health and director of the Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control says that two important factors have contributed to this trend – one being the mass tobacco control campaign that has been in place since 2012 all over the media and another is the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes since 2014. Zhu explained that smokers who shifted to e-cigarettes were more likely to attempt to quit smoking and more likely to succeed in kicking the habit. The analysis, Zhu explained, pointed at success rates in individuals as well as in large populations. This finally was reflected in the increasing numbers of quitters. The data from the US Census CPS-TUS that looked at adults over the age of 18 years connected the link between e-cigarette use and smoking cessation. This study thus looked at a very large population and the results thus could be trusted to be valid.
The participants in the study were given a set of questionnaires that asked them about their regular use of traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes over the last year. Results showed that nearly 65% of the smokers who used the e-cigarettes had attempted to quit smoking the traditional cigarettes over the study period. This was comparable to 40% of the traditional smokers who had attempted to quit smoking. Success rates in quitting smoking was 8.2% among e-cigarette smokers and 4.8% among traditional cigarette smokers. Over the years the quitting rate remained same for traditional smokers while the rates of quitting among e-cigarettes rose significantly Zhu noted. Zhu said that these numbers suggest that e-cigarettes could be an important smoking cessation tool. This thought however has been refuted earlier in some studies. But this team of researchers found that over 70% of individuals who had successfully quit smoking traditional cigarettes were still using e-cigarettes daily. This could help prevent them from lapsing back into their smoking habit.
Zhu explained that e-cigarette users are usually a self-selected group and may do better with choosing to smoke e-cigarettes and are usually motivated to quit smoking anyway. But this study looked at the whole population of both users and non-users to analyse if e-cigarettes play a role. The study did not look at the long term effects of smoking e-cigarettes though. Also the study did not explore other factors that could be concomitantly associated with quitting rates such as use of other medications to quit smoking or the type of e-cigarettes used etc.
Electronic cigarettes are devices that deliver nicotine and flavours though aerosols into the lungs. It’s use is a rapidly rising trend among the youth. Vapours are inhaled and the term “vaping” has emerged out of it. They can also deliver other drugs such as marijuana. Their long term effects are still not understood but it is evident that inhaling nicotine may not be good for a person especially for teenagers and youth who perceive this as a safer alternative to smoking.
A report in 2016 called the U.S. Surgeon General’s report looked at the use of e-cigarettes among the youth and was the first of its kind. It warned that this could pave the way for adolescents for life time of smoking.
E-cigarettes are a $2.5 billion business in the U.S. and flavours used in it make it more attractive to younger customers. There are a large proportion of smokers who use both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes studies find.
The cigarette itself has a battery, a chamber to vapourise the nicotine and the e-cigarette liquid. The liquid comes in a sealed cartridge or the cigarette may be connected to a tank system for continuous supply. Some units may have an atomizer connected to the cartridge called a cartomizer. The earlier e-cigarettes had these cartomizers. Newer ones are available with a variety of options including tank systems and cartomizers. E cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide like traditional cigarettes. So they vaporize instead of burning the nicotine.