Are e-cigarettes really better than nicotine replacement therapy?
It’s no secret that quitting smoking is challenging.
Over the years, various treatments have been developed for you to use and increase your chances of kicking the habit once and for all.
They have proven useful, and they do work – especially if behavioural support is also provided, but the results are modest.
In recent years, more and more people trying to quit have turned to electronic cigarettes. According to a recent report by Action on Smoking and Health, there are currently 3.6 million e-cigarette users in the UK, 36% of which stated that their main reason for vaping is to help them ditch cigarettes.
But how do e-cigarettes compare to traditional nicotine replacement therapies, and which is most effective?
What kinds of nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) are available?
NRTs come in a variety of forms that can be used in different ways.
Some products work better than others, whilst some people might prefer a certain product over another.
The most common NRTs include:
·Nicotine patches – placed on the skin for a delivery of a small, steady amount of nicotine.
·Chewing gum – simply chew to release nicotine.
·Lozenges – a hard candy that releases nicotine as it slowly dissolves in the mouth.
·Inhalers – inhale through the mouthpiece for a quick nicotine fix.
·Nasal sprays – pump bottle containing nicotine to be sprayed into the nose.
How effective are nicotine replacement therapies?
For some people, NRTs can be extremely effective when used in their attempts to stop smoking.
However, there is strong evidence that using only one form of nicotine replacement by itself isn’t as effective as when it’s used alongside another, like nicotine patches used with chewing gum, for example.
According to a study by National Institute for Health Research, only 14% of 11,356 participants were able to successfully quit smoking using a single form of NRT, whereas 17% were able to quit successfully by using a combination of treatments.
What about e-cigarettes?
In recent years, research has found that e-cigarettes are the most effective resource to help smokers quit.
The first study of this kind, conducted by Queen Mary University of London in 2021, states that e-cigarettes are more helpful than nicotine replacement treatments for smokers trying to achieve long term smoking reduction and cessation.
Researchers enrolled 135 smokers who had previously been unable to quit using conventional treatments, like inhalers or nasal sprays.
At random, they were selected to receive either an 8-week supply of an NRT of their choice or an e-cigarette starter pack, with instruction to purchase e-liquids in a strength and flavour of their choosing – with products accompanied by behavioural support.
The results found a significant reduction in smoking cessation among the participants in the e-cigarette group, and after 6 months, 27% had reduced their smoking by at least half – compared to 6% of participants in the NRT group. This suggests that e-cigarettes are a more effective approach to stopping smoking for good.
How will an e-cigarette help me quit?
As we’ve established, thousands of people quit every year using an e-cigarette, but how exactly do they help?
E-cigs are the only replacement that truly replicates the sensation of smoking and this, along with e-liquids being available in a range of different strengths, is what allows so many people to be successful.