LONDON (Good Medical) – Electronic cigarettes are almost twice as effective at helping smokers quit smoking as nicotine replacement treatments such as patches, lozenges and gum, according to findings from an important clinical test.

A saleswoman is holding an e-cigarette while she is showing a steamer at the Vape Shop, which sells e-cigarette products in Beijing, China, on January 30, 2019. Good Medical / Thomas Peter

The study, involving nearly 900 smokers, found that 18% of electronic cigarette users had become non-smokers after one year, compared to 9.9% who tried to quit smoking. smoke with other products.

"This is good news for cigarette smokers who want to quit smoking," said Richard Miech of the University of Michigan in the United States, who studied e-cigarettes but did not participate in the test. . "This proof is convincing."

Electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco, but contain nicotine-containing liquids that the user inhales into steam. Many large tobacco companies, including British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco, sell electronic cigarettes.

Many health experts consider the use of electronic cigarettes, or "vaping," an effective way for smokers to quit smoking, but the scientific community is divided as to their potential benefits to public health.

Independent experts said the latest trial, funded by the UK's National Institute for Health Research and led by researchers at Queen Mary University in London, was robust and well-conducted.

Some research has already suggested that e-cigarettes could help smokers to reduce or completely quit smoking, but other studies have raised concerns about their use by teens.

This study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed a stronger e-cigarette effect than previous trials. The researchers said that this could be due to the inclusion of smokers looking for help, providing face-to-face support and the opportunity for electronic cigarette users to choose their own liquids.

During the trial, 886 smokers were randomized into groups to receive up to three months of supply of nicotine substitutes, such as patches, gums, lozenges and sprays, or a kit. electronic cigarette starter containing one or two bottles of liquid and encouragement. to buy their own choice of future supplies.

All participants were also tested to see if they still smoked tobacco cigarettes and enjoyed weekly individual support for at least four weeks. The researchers said that one of the reasons why e-cigarettes have proven to be more effective is perhaps that they allow for a better fit of nicotine doses to individual needs.

Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, behavior specialist at Oxford University in Britain, said the study added to the growing evidence that e-cigarettes can improve health by helping smokers quit.

"More research is needed on the effects of the long-term use of the electronic cigarette, but experts agree that electronic cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking, so change phones. … will probably bring substantial health benefits, "she said.

Kate Kelland report; Edited by Andrew Cawthorne