Electronic Cigarettes May Provide Some Cessation Benefits
June 26, 2013

Italian Study Shows Smoking Cessation Benefits Of E-Cigarettes

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Nearly one in ten smokers were no longer using traditional cigarettes after spending a year using e-cigarettes, according to new research appearing in the latest edition of the journal PLOS ONE.

The 12 month trial, which was led by researchers at the University of Catania tracked 300 Italian smokers who agreed to try e-cigarettes between 2010 and 2012, according to Mike Esterl of the Wall Street Journal.

The study authors found, at the end of the study, 8.7 percent were no longer smoking regular cigarettes, Esterl said. Those who used e-cigs that did not include nicotine had a quit rate of four percent, while those who were provided e-cigs with high doses of nicotine reported a 13 percent quit rate.

“Though the study was not billed as a smoking-cessation test, more than half of participants cut down on tobacco soon after they started using the e-cigarettes,” Reuters reporter Andrew M. Seaman said. Furthermore, the authors said the percentage of those who completely kicked the habit rivaled the quit rate of those who used medication.

“I think the main message of the study is that we can use these products as an extraordinary tobacco control tool,” senior author Dr. Riccardo Polosa, Director of the Institute for Internal Medicine and Clinical Immunology at the University of Catania, told Seaman.

According to Esterl, this latest study comes on the heels of a UK survey published earlier this year which also suggested the electronic devices can help lower smoking rates. In that study, researchers from the University of East London said 70 percent of 1,347 e-cigarette users in 33 countries reported a reduced urge to smoke after using the devices. Also in that study, 74 percent reported not smoking for at least a few weeks.

In Polosa’s study, one group of participants was given e-cigarettes along with cartridges containing 7.2 milligrams (mg) of nicotine. A second started off with the 7.2 mg cartridges but were later switched to 5.4 mg cartridges, while a third were given cartridges containing only tobacco flavor but no nicotine, Reuters said. All participants were given enough supplies to last three months, and regular checkups were provided throughout the year.

“At the end of the study, 13 percent of the group that first received the highest-dose nicotine cartridges was no longer smoking. That compared to 9 percent of those who were in the reduced-nicotine group and 4 percent in the group without nicotine,” Seaman said. “Polosa's team also found that between 9 and 12 percent of people in each of the nicotine-cartridge groups had reduced the amount they smoked by at least half.”

David Abrams, head of the Washington, DC-based anti-tobacco group Legacy, told the Wall Street Journal, based on the results of the Catania study, “the jury is still out” on the effectiveness of e-cigs as smoking cessation tools and more research into the matter was required. However, Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, countered that the research shows the devices “are at least as good” as FDA-approved products for smokers.