Scientific evidence grows for e-cigarettes as quit-smoking aids

Researchers at the Cochrane Review found evidence that e-cigarettes can help people stop smoking

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Electronic cigarettes may have helped about 18,000 people in England to give up smoking in the last year and there is no evidence of any serious side effects associated with their use for up to two years, according to a recent study.

Researchers at University College London (UCL) analyzed the latest data on smoking and quitting in England - including details on smokers who worked with the health-worker devised Stop Smoking Services to set a quit date.

While they found no direct evidence that e-cigarettes prompted more people to make the decision to try and quit, the team did find that as more people used e-cigarettes, more people also successfully stopped smoking.

In a separate scientific analysis, researchers at the Cochrane Review found that the overall weight of evidence on e-cigarettes suggests they can help people stop smoking and have no serious side-effects. E-cigarettes, which heat nicotine-laced liquid into vapor, have rapidly grown into a global market for “vaping” products that was estimated at around $7 billion in 2015.

Experts estimate that around 2.8 million people in the UK use e-cigarettes and they have become the nation's most popular smoking cessation aid. “England is sometimes singled out as being too positive in its attitude to e-cigarettes,” said Robert West, a professor at UCL's Health Behavior Research Centre.

“These data suggest that our relatively liberal regulation of e-cigarettes is probably justified.” Of the studies that looked at side effects and were reviewed by the Cochrane team, none found any serious concerns of using e-cigarettes for up to two years. Among non-serious side-effects, throat and mouth irritation were most common.

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