E-cigarettes could be behind the sharp increase in the number of people in England who have successfully quit smoking.
The Smoking Toolkit Survey which provides information about smoking and smoking cessation in England has released figures showing the success rate for people trying to quit smoking jumped from 14 percent in 2011 to 23 percent in 2016 – a rise of nine percentage points.
The increase is out of the ordinary, says Michael Siegel, a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health. According to Siegel, the rate of people successful quitting smoking in England remained steady from 2007 to 2011.
So what accounts for the sudden uptick in successful quitting?
According to Siegel, one of the strongest explanations is the surge in e-cigarette use over the past few years.
“Prior to 2011, virtually no smokers in England were using e-cigarettes to try to quit smoking, while approximately 30 percent were using NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy). By late last year, only about 10 percent of smokers were using NRT in quit attempts compared to about 40 percent using electronic cigarettes,” says Siegel.
Furthermore, there has also been no change in the overall number of percentage of smokers who are trying to quit tobacco. Sigel is in little doubt that the data demonstrates e-cigarettes have played a large part in helping people quit smoking as their use has become more common.
“These data add to the strong evidence that electronic cigarettes can help smokers quit. Based on this research, which includes a randomized trial of e-cigarettes compared to the nicotine patch, it seems clear that electronic cigarettes are at least as effective as nicotine replacement therapy and probably more so.”
Although not conclusive, the data will certainly give some anti-vaping activists pause for thought before making claims that e-cigarettes are not only ineffective for helping people quit but actually hurt people’s chances of getting off regular cigarettes.
A meta-analysis published in January purported to show that smokers who use e-cigarettes are in fact less likely to quit than those who don’t. This analysis was later subjected to a barrage of criticism from scientists and doctors who labelled it “unscientific.”