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Study: Smokers Are More Likely To Successfully Quit Using E-Cigarettes Than FDA Approved Methods

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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A recent analysis of data from the Food and Drug Administration shows electronic cigarettes are more popular and effective for quitting than nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and prescription drugs.

Researchers from the University of Louisville culled through the baseline Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Survey from the FDA and National Institutes of Health and found that vaping devices give smokers trying to quit the best chance at sustained success. The report comparing various cessation methods, published Nov. 17 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, showed that despite attempts by federal health regulators to cast doubts on the efficacy of vaping, smokers are choosing it over FDA endorsed nicotine patches and gum.

“Federal officials have heavily promoted NRT and prescription drugs as ‘safe and effective,’ while condemning e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, however, this study shows that more former smokers had used the latter products to successfully quit.” Dr. Brad Rodu, a professor of medicine at the University of Louisville and co-author of the report, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Cold turkey quitting was the most popular cessation method between 2013 and 2014, according to the report, but those using a vaping device had higher rates of sustained success than those not using a quitting aid. NRT products like patches or gum and prescription drugs like Chantix proved less popular among smokers trying to ditch the habit.

“E-cigarettes were one of the most commonly used quit aids by smokers in 2013-14, and they were the only aid producing a higher odds of being a former smoker (i.e. successful quitting) than cold-turkey,” Rodu, who is also the holder of the endowed chair in tobacco harm reduction research at the University of Louisville, told TheDCNF. “E-cigarettes were used as a single quit method by 2.2 million smokers in 2013–2014, NRT by 1.47 million, prescription drugs by 418,000 and smokeless tobacco by 124,000.”

There are currently 7.8 million active vapers in the U.S., down from 8.91 million in 2014. The number of former smokers who use an e-cigarette rose from 2.49 million to 2.62 million Americans, that accounts for 34 percent of the current vaping population, according to a paper released Sept. 28 by the free-market think tank R Street Institute.

“Comparison of population estimates for e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, NRT and prescription drugs are informative, because the first two are smoke-free tobacco products that are considered unacceptable as cigarette substitutes by government agencies and most American health authorities, while the latter two are universally promoted as safe and effective by the same,” Rodu told TheDCNF.

Public health experts say vaping largely eliminates the harms from conventional cigarettes because 95 percent of the carcinogens that cause tobacco-related illnesses are released through combustion. E-cigarettes simply heat liquid nicotine, creating an aerosol vapor.

Advocates of smoking alternatives say alarmism over vaping misses the larger point about e-cigarettes, namely that they are a harm reduction tool helping millions of smokers quit worldwide.

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