A major new study provides the strongest evidence yet that vaping can help smokers quit cigarettes, with e-cigarettes proving nearly twice as effective as nicotine gums and patches. The British research, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, could influence what doctors tell their patients and shape the debate in the US, where the FDA has come under pressure to more tightly regulate the burgeoning industry amid a surge in teenage vaping, per the AP. In the study, researchers tracked nearly 900 middle-aged smokers who were randomly assigned to receive either e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement products, including patches, gums, and lozenges. After one year, 18% of e-cigarette users were smoke-free, versus 9.9% of those using the other products.
The study was more rigorous than past ones, which largely surveyed smokers on e-cigarette use. Several factors may have boosted the results: All participants were recruited from a government smoking-cessation program and were presumably motivated to quit; they also received four weeks of anti-smoking counseling. The researchers didn't test e-cigarettes against new drugs such as Pfizer's Chantix. Some of the authors, meanwhile, have been paid consultants to makers of anti-smoking products. US authorities have been reluctant to back the products, in part because the long-term effects are unknown. Still, "I think they now have more evidence to endorse e-cigarettes," says Dr. Nancy Rigotti, a specialist not involved in the study, though she and other experts caution that no vaping products have been approved in the US to help smokers quit.
(Read more e-cigarettes