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E-cigarettes help smokers kick the habit, says study

Consumer Reports News: September 15, 2011 01:08 PM

A new study examines how electronic cigarettes—which deliver vaporized nicotine minus the smoke and tar of regular cigarettes—are most commonly used. Published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, the study found that almost all of the individuals interviewed felt that e-cigarettes had helped them quit smoking.

Based on more than 100 interviews, the study found that the majority of interviewees had used e-cigarettes daily for at least a year. Seventy-eight percent reported not using any tobacco in the previous 30 days, although they had previously smoked an average of 25 cigarettes per day, and had tried to quit smoking an average of nine times before they started using e-cigarettes.

Two-thirds of those interviewed had tried to quit smoking using an FDA-approved smoking-cessation medication. Three quarters started using e-cigarettes with the intention of quitting smoking, and almost all felt that the e-cigarettes had helped them to quit.

When it came to specific e-cigarette use, two-thirds said they used e-cigarette liquid with a medium to high concentration of nicotine. Most used e-cigarettes designed to achieve a hotter more intense vapor, and not the the most widely sold e-cigs powered by a 3.7 volt battery.

The study's authors concluded that until there is more evidence about the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes that smokers should use proven treatments like counseling and FDA-approved medicines. They add, however, that "for those who have successfully switched to e-cigs, the priority should be staying off cigarettes, rather than quitting e-cigs."

Bottom line: Our biggest concern is still the unknown safety of e-cigarettes. Unlike other smoking devices, e-cigarettes are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and there are concerns that they may contain potentially harmful chemicals, such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient in antifreeze. Despite being met with resistance, the agency continues its push to regulate e-cigarettes. Until more is known, we suggest that if you want to quit smoking, stick with medically-proven cessation aids.

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs): views of aficionados and clinical/public health perspectives [International Journal of Clinical Practice via Wiley]

Maggie Shader

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