New research suggests e-cigarettes may help some smokers quit. The study of smokers with no desire to quit found up to 13 percent were not smoking regular cigarettes after one year of using the electronic devices.
More than half of the study’s participants reduced their tobacco use soon after they starting using e-cigarettes, Reuters reports.
The Italian researchers reported in the journal PLOS ONE that after one year, the quit rate was similar to results seen in studies of smoking cessation medications. The new study did not directly compare e-cigarettes with nicotine replacement therapies.
“I think the main message of the study is that we can use these products as an extraordinary tobacco control tool,” lead researcher Dr. Riccardo Polosa told Reuters.
The study included 300 smokers, who said they did not intend to quit in the near future. They were divided into three groups. One group received e-cigarettes with cartridges that contained 7.2 milligrams of nicotine. A second group started with the same cartridges, but switched to 5.4-milligram cartridges later in the study. The third group received cartridges with tobacco flavor but no nicotine.
The researchers found 13 percent of those using the highest-dose nicotine cartridges had quit after one year, compared with 9 percent of those who switched to reduced-nicotine cartridges and 4 percent of those who used e-cigarettes with no nicotine. Between 9 and 12 percent of those who received cartridges containing nicotine had cut the amount they smoked by at least half, the article notes.
E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine in the form of a vapor, which is inhaled by the user. They usually have a rechargeable, battery-operated heating element, a replaceable cartridge with nicotine or other chemicals and a device called an atomizer that converts the contents of the cartridge into a vapor when heated. E-cigarettes often are made to look like regular cigarettes.