'Consider e-cigarettes in tobacco control plans', study recommends

Smokers who use e-cigarettes are more likely to quit using conventional cigarettes

Smokers who use e-cigarettes are more likely to quit using conventional cigarettes

Some say that they're healthier than actual cigarettes, but others argue that their popularity lures nonsmokers into smoking, or that people think it's healthy so they try less hard to quit.

"Such a data pattern makes it more reasonable to conclude that e-cigarette use contributes to the increase in the overall smoking cessation rate".

For the study, published today in the journal BMJ, researchers analyzed survey data from over 160,000 people spanning nearly 15 years.

"Use of e-cigarettes was associated both with a higher quit rate for individuals as well as at the population level; driving an increase in the overall number of people quitting", said Shu-Hong Zhu, study author and UC San Diego professor of Family Medicine and Public Health and director of the Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, in a statement.

It showed that 49.3% of recent quitters had tried e-cigarettes, and that out of all smokers past and present, between 11.5% and 19% were current e-cigarette users.

"People should be open to consider e-cigarettes as a way to help them quit, especially if they have used everything else in the past", Zhu said.

The study identified that the cessation rate for smokers who did not use e-cigarettes in 2014-15 was "statistically indistinguishable" from the rate in previous years.

Cigarette smoking habits have been declining in the United States over the past decade.

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Reviewing survey responses from almost 25,000 current and former smokers in 2014-2015, Zhu and his colleagues found that "vapers" were more likely than nonusers to make a quit attempt (65 percent versus 40 percent).

Zhu added that a national tobacco control campaign that began airing in 2012 probably also helped boost quit rates.

Regulation policies on e- cigarettes differ from country to country.

Christopher Bullen, professor of public health at the University of Auckland, said that any ill effects of e-cigarettes are 'likely to be rare compared with the harms of continuing to smoke.

How safe are e-cigarettes? E-cigarettes have become the nation's favourite quitting tool and 1.5 million vapers have stopped smoking completely.

E-cig users also report finding it easier to refrain from their habit when in no-vaping areas, the study found.

Other study limitations included not addressing the long-term effects of e-cigs or investigating if the use of e-cigs leads people to start smoking.

Earlier this month, a House panel renewed its efforts to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from requiring safety reviews of e-cigarettes already on the market. It's based on the largest representative sample of smokers and e-cigarette users available.

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