The study called E-cigarette use and associated changes in population smoking cessation: evidence from US current population surveys, was carried out by researchers from the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, and Moores Cancer Center, both at the University of California.
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The data was collected via the The US Current Population Survey-Tobacco Use Supplement (CPS-TUS), which is a tobacco survey distributed together with the the Current Population Survey by the US Census Bureau. The researchers collected data from five surveys, 2001-02, 2003, 2006-07, 2010-11, and 2014-15, with sample sizes of 185 568, 183 810, 172 023, 171 365, and 163 920, respectively.
The researchers looked more closely at the 2014-15 survey, when e-cigarettes were more prevalent. Out of the 161,054 respondents that did complete the survey, 22,548 were current smokers and 2136 recent quitters. A significant 38.2% of current smokers and 49.3% of recent quitters had tried e-cigarettes, and 11.5% and 19.0% respectively, were current vapers.
“E-cigarette users were more likely than non-users to attempt to quit smoking, 65.1% v 40.1% (change=25.0%, 95% confidence interval 23.2% to 26.9%), and more likely to succeed in quitting, 8.2% v 4.8% (3.5%, 2.5% to 4.5%). The overall population cessation rate for 2014-15 was significantly higher than that for 2010-11, 5.6% v 4.5% (1.1%, 0.6% to 1.5%), and higher than those for all other survey years (range 4.3-4.5%).” reported the researchers.
E-cigarettes should be part of anti-smoking programs
These findings go in line with several studies carried out in the UK where vaping products have been fully endorsed for smoking cessation. Thanks to the advent of the devices, the UK is currently reporting the lowest number of smokers since the 70’s, and is now boasting the second-lowest smoking rates in Europe after Sweden. In fact an observational study by the University College London also published in BMJ last September opposed concerns that vaping undermines smokers’ effort to quit.
The researchers from the University of California seem to concur. “These findings need to be weighed carefully in regulatory policy making regarding e-cigarettes and in planning tobacco control interventions.”, concluded the study abstract. While the US insists on regulating vaping products as their deadly counterparts, studies keep emerging indicating the importance of regulating the products as safer alternatives and smoking cessation tools. With public health in mind, this is the perspective that should be informing policy.