E Cigarettes Work Better Than Patches for Pregnant Women

New research just published in Nature Medicine journal finds that vaping works better than nicotine patches and is just as safe for pregnant women. The research team from Queen Mary University of London have been celebrated on social media by tobacco harm reduction experts and provided welcome positive media coverage.

The team says that many women manage to quit using tobacco successfully when they discover that they’re pregnant. The problem is that a number do not find that process easy, especially those who are from disadvantaged socio-economic groups.

The Queen Mary University team said that in the past women were offered one of two approaches, either traditional nicotine replacement products (such as patches, gum or sprays) or the anti-depressant bupropion.

Success rates with people attempting to quit using traditional nicotine replacement was “patchy”, bupropion users demonstrated almost no ability to quit.

Changes in the metabolism means that the nicotine in the blood is processed more quickly. This means that pregnant smokers need to be topping up their nicotine levels more frequently than before they became pregnant. Vaping offers them an opportunity to do this.

Recruiting 1,140 pregnant smokers, the team discovered that the group using e-cigs were more successful at quitting smoking. Some of those in the nicotine patch group only achieved smoke-free status by vaping as well.

Saliva samples were used to confirm no smoking. Almost twice as many in the vaping group remained smoke-free after they had given birth.

The team noted that, “birth outcomes and adverse effects in women were similar in the two groups,” but birth weights were better in the group using electronic cigarettes.

Commenting on the study, Professor John Britton, Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology, University of Nottingham, said: “This study is an important development in managing the sometimes seemingly intractable problem of helping pregnant smokers to quit.  Smoking in pregnancy is a major health hazard to the unborn and newborn baby, causing the loss of up to 5000 babies every year and possibly impairing development throughout the child’s life.  Methods to help pregnant women to quit are therefore urgently needed, particularly since conventional methods are of relatively low efficacy in this group. In this study, the relative efficacy on effectiveness is robust.  The news that vaping is more effective than medicinal nicotine in this context offers another method to reduce this burden of disease.

“On safety, there are grounds for optimism here, but we need continued evaluation on this.  In addressing concerns about the possible long-term hazards of vaping, which are unknown but likely, if anything, to be minor, it is important to bear in mind that smoking in pregnancy is lethal to children.  Women who are pregnant and who have not been able to quit smoking should therefore be encouraged, as strongly as possible, to switch to vaping.”