October 19 (NWN) – Cigarette smokers who switch to vaping are less likely to successfully quit traditional cigarettes and are more likely to continue using them than those who quit smoking, a study published Tuesday by JAMA Network Open showed.
They are also at a higher risk of smoking relapse than those who switch to other flammable tobacco products such as cigars and pipes, the researchers said.
According to the data, just under 42% of e-cigarette smokers have not used traditional cigarettes for at least one year or more after switching.
However, 36% relapsed and smoked cigarettes a year or more after switching to vaping.
In comparison, more than half of the study participants who quit tobacco altogether still did not smoke cigarettes a year later, although just over one third relapsed.
“Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things to do because of addiction to nicotine,” study co-author John Pearce told NWN in an email.
Many of the health complications of cigarette smoking can be attributed to “the tar that smokers ingest when they get nicotine from burning tobacco,” said Pierce, professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego.
As a result, there is “the idea that they can reduce the likelihood of health effects by switching to products that do not require burning tobacco to obtain nicotine,” Pierce said.
However, “our research shows that smokers do better when they quit nicotine altogether rather than switching to another source of nicotine,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 40 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes, and nearly 5 million middle and high school students use at least one tobacco product.
Research shows that roughly one in four smokers switches to e-cigarettes to quit smoking, although these devices are not recognized as a smoking cure, according to the CDC.
The findings of Peirce and colleagues are based on an analysis of the tobacco use habits of nearly 14,000 smokers over a period of more than one year.
Just over 9% of study participants tried to quit smoking during the study period, with 23% switching to e-cigarettes and 18% using these devices on a daily basis.
About 63% of those who tried to quit smoking stopped using tobacco altogether, while the rest used other tobacco products.
“This study does not focus on e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid,” Pierce said.
“We were focused on whether those who were able to completely switch to e-cigarettes could continue to use this nicotine source without returning to smoking. [and] we couldn’t find any evidence to support this, ”he said.
A separate analysis of FDA-approved smoking cessation methods, also published by JAMA on Tuesday, found that combining the drug varenicline and a nicotine patch was no more effective than using varenicline alone.
Just under 25% of smokers who received varenicline, marketed as Chantix, among other brands, and nicotine patch for 12 or 24 weeks had not smoked during the previous seven-day period when evaluated one year later.
However, in reality, this figure was slightly less than that of the participants who received the drug alone, the researchers said.
“Varenicline is an extremely effective smoking cure,” study co-author Timothy B. Baker told NWN in an email.
“Our research shows that varenicline is optimally effective when used for 12 weeks and without other drugs, which is important because it can save patients hassle and possibly save money,” said Baker, professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. … …