A new clinical trial has shown something that many vapers have known for years: E-cigarettes are the most effective way to stop smoking.
E-cigarettes Beat Other Nicotine Replacement Therapies in Recent Study
The study, which was the first of its kind, enrolled 135 smokers who had been resistant to more traditional methods. Participants were chosen from a community stop-smoking service at the Queen Mary University of London in Mile End. The median age of participants was 40, with a gender split of roughly 50/50.
From here, the study subjects were split up into two groups.
Group One received a nicotine replacement treatment (NRT) of their choice. This included either:
- nicotine patches
- nicotine chewing gum
- nasal/mouth spray
As the study noted, some of these methods have been licenced as NRT for more than 30 years. In general, they work, especially if supplemented by behavioural support. However, the paper states that they have modest results.
Group Two received an e-cigarette starter park. Additionally, they received further instructions to buy nicotine of any strength and flavour they wanted.
For the record, the devices that the study provided were:
The results, which were published in the medical journal Addiction, found that there was a significant success in the e-cigarette group. This success included either reducing smoking or stopping altogether.
After six months, 27% of the e-cigarette group had reduced their cigarette intake by at least half. Additionally, 19% of the participants in the e-cigarette group had stopped smoking entirely. These data were confirmed by a carbon monoxide reading taken from the participant’s breath.
However, the results of the NRT group were less positive. Only 6% of the study subjects had managed to reduce their smoking by more than half. Furthermore, only 3% had managed to stop smoking.
The study concluded by suggesting these results confirm that if someone wants to stop smoking, recommending a refillable e-cigarette is a far more effective approach for smokers than NRTs. The authors add that allowing users a choice of nicotine flavour and strength is also recommended.
Finally, the study states that e-cigarettes are also a more cost-effective choice. They estimated that the prescription charges for NRT at around £17.20 per week. Over the same time frame, they said the estimated cost of nicotine was £10.
What to Make of This Study?
For most vapers, these results will not come as a great surprise. Many of us have tried various methods to stop smoking — from mainstream options like patches or gum to more leftfield techniques like hypnosis. Some of us had even attempted to go “cold turkey” and managed to last a few days or hours.
But there are some interesting conclusions to draw from the study.
Firstly, it’s hard to believe how ineffective traditional NRT methods are. When laid bare, if you are using NRT to stop smoking, you’ll have a 33/1 chance of success based on this pool of participants. To me, that seems very low. Comparatively, e-cigarettes appear to offer a 5/1 chance to stop smoking.
Of course, it is essential to note that the trial deliberately chose people who had proven resistant to the traditional method used to stop smoking. So perhaps it is true that smoking reduction rates would be higher among the general population.
So what is it about these two methods that make them produce such drastically different results?
Why Does Traditional NRT Perform Worse than E-cigarettes?
The study doesn’t really expand on this point too much. However, it suggests that e-cigarettes were more successful because they “give smokers what they want”, citing a 2019 study called A Randomised Trial of E-Cigarettes versus Nicotine-Replacement Therapy.
In that study, participants were given an Aspire One Kit and 18mg strength e-liquid. The coils provided were either a 1.5-ohm or a 2.1ohm suitable for mouth-to-lung vaping. This study found that around 18% of those who used an e-cigarette had managed to stop smoking.
The authors essentially put this down to vaping being better at satisfying cravings and regulating nicotine dosage. However, there might be more at play here.
For me, giving up smoking was possible because vaping offered three crucial things.
1) It stops nicotine withdrawal symptoms
2) It provided a much-needed throat hit
3) It was something to do with your hands
The combination of these three factors made things far more manageable.
Has Giving Up Smoking Gotten Easier?
The Queen Mary of London study cited three areas where participants were unhappy with their product:
- battery life
- the harshness of the aerosol
- problems filling the tank
You could easily argue that disposable vape bars solve those three issues, making me think that they would be a suitable choice for the subsequent trials when comparing NRT methods. Currently, e-cigarettes are not available through NHS stop-smoking programs. But if they are almost half the price of NRT treatments, it should be something the cash-strapped organisation considers.
Nic salts closely replicate the sensation of smoking cigarettes. Additionally, it mimics the absorption of nicotine into the bloodstream. And because it vapourises at a lower temperature, it allows smaller, more portable devices that require less battery. Which again supports the idea that they could outperform the devices and e-liquids used in these test.
For any vaping ex-smoker, the results of this trial won’t be too shocking. Patches, nicotine gum, and other NRT seem to yield poor results. While vaping is not a miracle cure in the bid to stop smoking, this data matches our general experience.
Hopefully, next time a study of this kind is done, it includes nic salts and disposable vape bars. These devices are simple to use and require no maintenance or upkeep. If they are made available, I predict that e-cigarettes will post even better numbers and more people will stop smoking.