Many smokers successfully quit by switching to e-cigarettes (vaping), but doctors can’t recommend this treatment without good evidence from clinical trials. They now have this evidence. Our latest study confirms that e-cigarettes are indeed an effective way to help smokers quit.
In the trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, almost 900 smokers seeking to quit were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group was given nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) – mostly combinations of nicotine patches with a shorter-acting medication, such as nicotine chewing gum, inhaler or mouth spray. The other group was given a refillable e-cigarette, with one or two bottles of e-liquid, and taught how to use the device. They were then encouraged to buy more supplies of their choice, with nicotine strengths and flavours that they liked. Both groups also received weekly face-to-face support over at least the first four weeks of the study.
When heavy smokers try to quit, they often feel miserable for a while, struggling with urges to smoke, irritability and low mood. The group using e-cigarettes experienced fewer of these symptoms than the group using NRT. They also found e-cigarettes more helpful and more satisfying, although they didn’t find e-cigarettes or NRT as satisfying as cigarettes.