E-cigarettes plus nicotine patches work best for smoking cessation

Quitting smoking with e-cigarettes is effective. Twice as effective as just using patches. This is according to a study from New Zealand involving over a thousand people.

Researchers from New Zealand have investigated the effectiveness of smoking cessation using e-cigarettes. The study was conducted between 2016 and 2018 and was published in the autumn in the journal The Lancet. The study is organised by the Universities of Auckland and Canterbury and the National Institute of Health.

The study is the first to test the effectiveness of a so-called combined smoking cessation strategy. 1100 smokers were divided into three groups: one group used only nicotine patches, a second group used e-cigarettes with nicotine and nicotine patches, and a third group used nicotine-free e-cigarettes and nicotine patches.

Twice as many non-smokers

The researchers used local vejp shops to select suitable e-juices, nicotine levels and vejp devices. At the time of the study, nicotine-containing e-juice was banned from sale in shops. However, participants were given access during the ongoing study.

The results after six months were clear: 17 per cent of those who used both patches and e-cigs were smoke-free after six months. In the other two groups, who only used patches as a source of nicotine, were only 10 per cent smoke-free after six months.

The side effects, such as dry mouth and coughing, were few and transient, the researchers note.

Confirms previous studies

Previously sstudies conducted in the UK shows that e-cigarettes with nicotine double the chances of quitting smoking compared to nicotine patches alone. This is a finding confirmed by the New Zealand study.

Although 17 per cent doesn't sound like much in this context, the the researchers conclude that e-cigarettes is a popular way to quit smoking in New Zealand. And the high level of interest in the products, along with the effect on smoking cessation, could open the door to new opportunities in public health, the researchers say. Today, around half a million adults in New Zealand smoke.

"E-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than cigarettes. And if doctors recommended e-cigs in combination with nicotine patches, potentially 50,000 more people could quit smoking. This is compared to if we only recommend nicotine patches. At the same time, we could significantly improve the quality of life for many people. Not to mention the smokers' families and other carers," says Ms. Higgins. Natalie Walker, professor and medical doctor at the University of Auckland to Radio New Zealand and Reuters.

Sources (for those who want to read more):

Nicotine patches use in combination with e-cigarettes in smoking cessation - a pragmatic, randomised trial - (pdf - The Lancet)

A Randomised Trial of E-Cigarettes versus Nicotine-Replacement Therapy (New England Journal of Medicine - Cancer Research UK)

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