E-CigThere’s no substitute for evidence when it comes to public health decision-making.  Over the last couple of years the public health community has been asking itself whether electronic cigarettes can play an important role in getting folks to kick their tobacco habit.  We haven’t had much evidence to answer that question so far… but a study published today in the Journal Addiction suggests that e-cigarettes may be a very effective cessation tool (if used properly).

The study basically examined the success rate for quitting tobacco among people that used e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool and compared their success rate with people that used classic over the counter nicotine replacement therapy and people that tried to quit cold-turkey.   They found that people that used e-cigarettes to quit their tobacco habit were more likely to be successful than people that used over-the-counter nicotine replacement tools (e.g. lozenges, gum etc.) or that tried to quit cold-turkey.

In epidemiological-speak- the study found that: “The adjusted odds of non-smoking in users of e-cigarettes were 1.63 (95% confidence interval 1.17 to 2.27) times higher compared with users of NRT bought over-the-counter and 1.61 (95% confidence interval 1.19 to 2.18) times higher compared with those using no aid.”

Of course, this doesn’t close the book when it comes to whether e-cigarettes do more harm than good when you consider that some of the e-cigarette companies appear to be marketing to non-smokers and kids- but it’s probably the most important piece of evidence that we have so far when it comes to determining whether e-cigarettes are an important cessation tool if managed properly.

P.S.:  The FDA’s proposed new regulations for e-cigarettes are still out for public comment.  Here’s a link to a  previous blog post on that subject.