Smokers may think electronic cigarettes will help them quit, but a new study finds no evidence that it aids smoking cessation.
Researchers found that among Americans who’d recently quit smoking, those who were using e-cigarettes were just as likely to relapse in the next year as non-users were.
And the risk of relapse was actually slightly increased among former smokers who were using any type of non-cigarette tobacco product — including e-cigarettes, hookahs and smokeless tobacco.
Overall, ex-smokers who used any alternative product were more likely to relapse in the next year: Only 41.5% remained cigarette-free, compared with half of ex-smokers who steered clear of all cigarette alternatives.
Those who used e-cigarettes, specifically, were not at increased risk of relapse — but they weren’t helped, either.
The findings, reported online Oct. 19 in JAMA Network Open, counter the idea that e-cigarettes can help former smokers abstain from traditional cigarettes.
The study comes on the heels of a decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to grant its first-ever authorization to an e-cigarette product.
Last week, the agency announced it was allowing R.J. Reynolds to continue selling three of its Vuse tobacco-flavored “vaping” products. The FDA cited data from the company that the devices “could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch to these products — either completely or with a significant reduction in cigarette consumption — by reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals.”
The agency stressed, however, that the products are not “FDA-approved” or endorsed as smoking-cessation aids.
E-cigarettes have been sold in the United States for years, largely unregulated. But starting last year, the FDA began requiring manufacturers to apply for permission to sell their products, including ones already on the market. Companies were to submit data to help the FDA decide whether their products’ potential benefits to adult smokers outweigh the potential harms to public health.