A growing number of studies show that e-cigarettes are effective aids to quit smoking. This is according to a new Cochrane report on smokers who have tried different methods.
"We see clear evidence that e-cigarettes are twice as effective compared to nicotine gum and patches," Jamie Hartmann-Boyce from the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction group said to the Reuters.
Vaping, i.e. e-cigarettes, increases the chances of smokers quitting smoking. According to an updated report in the prestigious Chochrane Library the method is almost twice as effective as traditional nicotine medicines.
"Unlike gum and patches, e-cigarettes give smokers an experience similar to that of a cigarette. They get the nicotine, and the feeling of smoking, without exposing themselves or their environment to cigarette smoke". say the researchers behind the report.
Cochrane is a global network of researchers, health professionals and patients who compile scientific reviews. The organisation summarises the available evidence from medical and nursing research. The reviews provide a basis for clinical guidelines for doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
High quality of studies
Cochrane previously reviewed e-cigarettes in a 2014 report. The new updated report includes an additional 35 studies from the US, United Kingdom, Italy, Greece, Australia and New Zealand. Out of a total of 50 studies, a significant proportion were so-called randomised trials. Participants in these studies were randomly assigned to a group that received the treatment to be studied or to a control group.
"Randomised studies form the basis of all our reports. An additional requirement is that the studies follow up the results six months later" says Jamie Hartmann-Boyce who was responsible for the equalisation.
E-cigarettes help more smokers
The results showed that an average of 10 out of 100 smokers were smoke-free after six months using e-cigarettes. The corresponding figure for nicotine medicines was 6 out of 100. The other studies in the report, mostly based on statistical evidence, confirm the results, according to the researchers. For a country with one million smokers, this means that e-cigarettes could help tens of thousands more people quit than the nicotine preparations often recommended today.
'Over the past four years, the number of quality studies on e-cigarettes has increased significantly. At the same time, e-cigarettes have continuously evolved. Modern e-cigarettes deliver the nicotine better than before, and it is important that we follow developments in this area," said Mr Perez. Jamie Hartmann-Boyce
Few side effects known
The researchers also looked at the side effects and health impacts reported by participants in the different studies. The researchers note that there is still a lack of in-depth studies on the health effects of e-cigarettes, at least beyond two years of use. Transient oral irritation, headache, cough and dizziness were the most common side effects.
"Although e-cigarettes are not risk-free, there is a scientific consensus that they are significantly less harmful than cigarettes. We hope that this report helps to educate healthcare professionals and legislators on how to deal with smokers in relation to e-cigarettes." says Jamie Hartmann-Boyce.