denied thousands of those applications, effectively banning the products.
The new study adds to a sometimes confusing body of research on the effects of e-cigarettes on smoking cessation. A couple of clinical trials have suggested that offering e-cigarettes as part of a quit program — along with counseling — can be more effective than counseling plus nicotine patches or gum.
But the key is that in trials, smokers were getting “behavioral support” and guidance on how to use e-cigarettes as a cessation aid, Terry Pechacek, a professor and tobacco control expert at Georgia State University, in Atlanta says.
In studies like the latest one, which follow people in the “real world”, e-cigarettes do not appear to be beneficial.
“And that’s no surprise,” Pechacek adds. He says the same scenario played out when nicotine replacement therapies became available over the counter, and people were using them on their own.
What is the best way to quit smoking?
The best way to quit smoking, according to Pechacek, is by “accessing help” — including free counseling over the phone via government “quitlines.”
In the United States, e-cigarettes are not approved or recommended as a smoking cessation aid, but two medications are: varenicline (Chantix) and the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin).
“We already have FDA-approved therapies,” Dr. Jamie Garfield, a volunteer medical spokesperson with the American Lung Association says.
In general, she says, varenicline is the first choice, followed by bupropion or nicotine replacement therapy — used alongside counseling in all cases.
“I do not recommend e-cigarettes in any context to anyone,” Garfield adds. She notes that no clinical trials have compared e-cigarettes against the FDA-approved medications in helping smokers quit.
And beyond that, Garfield says, there are broader harms of widespread access to e-cigarettes: In the real world, many smokers do not forgo cigarettes once they start vaping, they instead become “dual users.”
It is never too late to quit smoking. The earlier you quit, the sooner you can lower your risk of developing heart disease, cancer, lung disease and any other smoking-related illness. If you are ready to take the first step, call l 1-800-QUIT-NOW.