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    New study: Vapes increasingly likely to help smokers quit

    Ali Anderson
    Ali Anderson
    April 18, 2024
    4 min read
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    Vapes are increasingly likely to help people quit cigarettes, a new study has revealed. 

    The study, published in the Nicotine & Tobacco Research journal, looked at the quitting rates of adult smokers in the US between 2013 and 2021. 

    It compared the success rates of those using vapes to help them quit with those who didn’t. 

    In the earlier period, between 2013 and 2016, there was no difference between those who used vapes and those who didn’t - the quit rate in both groups was 16 percent.

    But in more recent years, from 2018 to 2021, those using vapes had a quit rate of almost 31 percent - far higher than the rate of around 20 percent for people who didn’t use vapes.

    “Our findings here suggest that the times have changed when it comes to vaping and smoking cessation for adults in the US,” said lead author Karin Kasza, of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in New York.

    The paper suggests a number of factors behind the improving effectiveness of vapes in helping smokers to quit. One is that vapes became more developed over this time period, including higher nicotine levels being made available. 

    The researchers wrote: “Our full study period spanned a time in the United States when the ENDS [electronic nicotine delivery systems] marketplace was expanding; salt-based nicotine formulations gained market share in 2016 and ENDS products became available with increased nicotine yields over time.”

    The number of people vaping, and the frequency of them using vapes also increased during this period, the researchers noted. Therefore it’s possible that growing awareness of vapes as a smoking cessation tool might have led people to use them more persistently for this purpose.

    Tobacco control laws also changed during the study period. Some of these served to make cigarettes less easily available, which also might help explain the higher switching rates. 

    On the other hand, the authors noted, “some states and localities imposed ENDS flavour restrictions, and federal-level ENDS enforcement priorities became effective in February 2020,” which would hamper those wanting to use vapes to quit smoking. 

    Dr. Kasza said the study “underscores the importance of considering contemporary data and circumstances when making public health decisions.” 

    The findings follow the World Health Organization’s February COP10 meeting to discuss its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The WHO has recommended that the FCTC be amended to crackdown on vapes and other novel nicotine products, so they are regulated in the same way as tobacco. 

    Derek Yach, former executive director for noncommunicable disease at the WHO, wrote in a recent letter published by the Lancet that the FCTC “has not adapted to scientific and technological advances, and destined more users of toxic tobacco products to live shorter, less healthy lives.”

    Yach said that the latest research supports the findings of major international reviews and clinical trials on the superior effectiveness of vapes, compared to Nicotine Replacement Therapy, for quitting smoking.

    “My recent Lancet letter builds on this evidence in calling on WHO to embrace tobacco harm reduction more broadly to save millions of lives,” he said.

    Asked about the policy implications of her findings, Dr. Kasza replied that “vaping research is full of nuance, particularly as products and use patterns continue to evolve.” She also cautioned that the study considered only the experiences of adults, so its findings “should not be interpreted as providing guidance or data on youth vaping.” 

    But, she added: “Ultimately, the best science should guide under what conditions, if any, vaping products are beneficial to public health.”

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