Study: Vaping Supports ‘Long-Term Smoking Abstinence’

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

A recent study is bolstering the image of electronic cigarettes as a cessation tool for struggling smokers, finding the devices “support long-term smoking abstinence.”

A survey released Wednesday by researchers at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School in the U.K. aimed to determine if regular use of a vape is tied to quitting combustible tobacco, noting the use of the devices as a cessation tool, “remains controversial.”

Researchers, led by Dr. Caitlin Notley, conducted in-depth interviews with 40 people who identify as regular vapers, investigating their history with tobacco, prior attempts to quit and their personal vaping habits. (RELATED: American Cancer Society Is Now Advocating Vaping For Smokers Who Can’t Quit)

“We found that vaping may support long-term smoking abstinence,” Dr. Notley said in a statement Wednesday. “Not only does it substitute many of the physical, psychological, social and cultural elements of cigarette smoking, but it is pleasurable in its own right, as well as convenient and cheaper than smoking.”

The research team also looked at how users eventually found vaping, asking whether or not they specifically turned to electronic cigarettes as a way to quit. Roughly 17 percent of those surveyed said they had never previously tried to quit smoking.

“These were our accidental quitters,” Dr. Notley said in the statement. “They hadn’t intended to quit smoking and had tried vaping on a whim, or because they had been offered it by friends. … This study suggests that vaping is a viable long-term substitute for smoking, with substantial implications for tobacco harm reduction.”

The study comes as cigarette use in the U.S. declines to record lows. Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday reveals after holding steady for several years, the smoking rate fell from nearly 16 percent of adults in 2016 to 13.9 percent in 2017.

While the health gains are largely being attributed to years of successful public service campaigns warning of the dangers of smoking, credit is also being given to harm reduction technologies such as e-cigarettes.

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