MIL-OSI United Kingdom: expert reaction to e-cigarettes to quit smoking

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Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

A study published in NEJM looks at e-cigarettes for quitting smoking. 

Dr Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst, said:

“This new study is a well-conducted, independent and robust randomized controlled trial, and clearly shows that nicotine e-cigarettes can help people to stop smoking. It adds to a strong and consistent body of evidence supporting the use of nicotine e-cigarettes as a stop smoking aid.

“Though not risk free, e-cigarettes are considerably less harmful than smoking. Most adults who smoke want to quit, but some find it very difficult to do so – we should welcome evidence on ways to help people make this important step towards improving their health.”

Dr Sarah Jackson, Principal Research Fellow, UCL Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, University College London (UCL), said:

This well-conducted trial adds to the growing evidence base showing that e-cigarettes can help people to stop smoking. People who received the intervention (free e-cigarettes and e-liquids plus usual care) were 77% more likely to quit smoking for at least six months than those in the control group (usual care). It also assessed the safety of using e-cigarettes to quit, finding a slightly higher rate of non-serious adverse events in the intervention vs. control group, but no difference in the rate of serious adverse events (i.e., things that resulted in hospitalisation, ‘substantial incapacity’, or death). These findings should provide further reassurance to people who smoke and healthcare professionals that e-cigarettes can be used as an effective tool for stopping smoking without substantial risks to health.”

Prof Lion Shahab, Professor of Health Psychology and Co-Director of the UCL Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, University College London (UCL), said:

“This study adds to the growing number of high-quality trials showing that e-cigarettes are an effective smoking cessation aid, nearly doubling cessation rates compared with existing treatment. Crucially, this is the first study of its kind in Central Europe, confirming that this effect is observed across different context and in countries with different policy environments. This study also provides further insights into the safety profile of e-cigarette use for smoking cessation. Despite the fact that the control intervention was standard-of-care smoking cessation counselling with very little use of e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapy at six month follow-up, compared with half of intervention participants still using e-cigarettes, no differences in respiratory symptoms were observed between the intervention and control group.”

Electronic Nicotine-Delivery Systems for Smoking Cessation’ by Reto Auer et al. was published in NEJM at 10pm UK time on Wednesday 14 February 2024.

DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2308815

Declared interests

Sarah Jackson: No COIs.

Lion Shahab: No relevant COI.

Jamie Hartmann-Boyce: I have an honorary affiliation with the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, UK.

MIL OSI United Kingdom