More Studies Suggesting The Use of Vapes For Smoking Cessation

The latest Cochrane review showed evidence that nicotine vapes led to higher quit rates than other nicotine products used for smoking cessation, while researchers at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health, reiterated that there is enough evidence to support the use of vapes as a first-line aid for smoking cessation.

In line with several previous studies, a Cochrane report, titled “Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation,” found that vapes are more effective at helping people quit smoking in comparison to using other NRTs such as patches and gums. More specifically, the study found that while 6 in 100 people quit by using NRTs, 8 to 12 would quit via vapes.

Report author Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, an associate professor at the University of Oxford, said that there are a lot of misunderstandings surrounding vapes in both the public health community and across the media. He said that this misinformation is sadly discouraging people from considering the products as stop-smoking tools. He added that fortunately, more scientific evidence keeps emerging and providing “further clarity.”

“With support from Cancer Research UK, we search for new evidence every month as part of a living systematic review. We identify and combine the strongest evidence from the most reliable scientific studies currently available. For the first time, this has given us high-certainty evidence that e-cigarettes are even more effective at helping people to quit smoking than traditional nicotine replacement therapies [such as] patches or gums,” added Hartmann-Boyce.

The UK remains ahead of the game
In fact another recent comprehensive review has confirmed that the UK, which has long endorsed the use of vapes for smoking cessation, is leading the way with regards to the smoking cessation strategy it has in place.

Commissioned by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, the research was conducted at King’s College London. It reiterated that vaping poses ‘a small fraction of the health risks of smoking.’ It also concluded that the use of vaping products leads to a ‘substantial reduction’ in exposure to toxicants that promote cancer, lung disease, and cardiovascular disease, in comparison to cigarettes.

Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy, Dr Ian Walker, said the report confirms what a growing body of research has been indicating with regards to the benefits of switching to proven safer alternatives.

The use of safer nicotine products decreases smoking rates
Meanwhile, a 2021 paper by Frost & Sullivan in collaboration with tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI) titled, “Tobacco Harm Reduction and Novel Nicotine and Tobacco Products: Evidence from the Japanese Market,” found that the entry of HTPs in Japan has led to a drop of 34% in cigarettes sales.

“The commercial availability of HTPs in Japan is associated with a significant drop in conventional cigarette sales, well ahead of the previous rate of decline. Moreover, even after Heated Tobacco Products became available, sales of all tobacco products (Heated Tobacco Products and conventional cigarettes) continued to fall. Although there is mixed evidence, data from the 2019 National Health Survey indicates that 76% of consumers who use Heated Tobacco do so exclusively. Only 24% of HTPs users maintain dual-use,” said Mark Dougan, Consulting Director, Healthcare, Frost & Sullivan.

Infact, a recent article on Arabian Business highlighted that just in the six years since the introduction of IQOS and heated tobacco products in 2014, IQOS has expanded yearly reaching over 20% share of the market.

Similar patterns have been observed in the UK and Sweden. The UK has achieved the lowest smoking rates ever recorded thanks to endorsing the use of vaping products for tobacco harm reduction and smoking cessation. While Sweden has reached a smoke-free status by legalizing snus and embracing its use as a safer alternative to cigarettes.

Confirming this, another recent study by Kenneth Warner, dean emeritus at the Avedis Donabedian Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, took a global view of vaping, by comparing countries who endorse vaping and those who don’t and seeing how they compare in terms of smoking cessation rates.

The findings highlighted that in countries such as the UK and New Zealand where the products are promoted as NRTs, this is reflected in local smoking rates. “We believe that governments, medical professional groups and individual health care professionals in countries such as the U.S., Canada and Australia should give greater consideration to the potential of e-cigarettes for increasing smoking cessation,” said Warner.

Study recommends smoking cessation drug
In other news, a recent systematic review and meta-analysis published on Health Technology Assessment, claimed that that the most effective smoking cessation approaches are ones that include using Varenicline, a drug made from the plant Cytisinicline.

The study, “Smoking cessation medicines and e-cigarettes: a systematic review, network meta-analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis,” was conducted by researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. They searched publication databases through March 2017 and updated February 2019 for randomized clinical trials of smoking cessation lasting ≥6 months.

The research team finally included a total of 363 trials with 201,045 participants, while an additional 53 observational studies comprising 8,783,5403 participants included for a safety review.

On analysing the findings, the research team concluded that the most effective treatments were Varenicline standard plus nicotine replacement (odds ratio [OR], 3.22; 95% credible interval [CrI], 2.27-14.88), varenicline low plus nicotine replacement (OR, 5.70; 95% CrI, 1.57-21.12), and e-cigarette low (OR, 3.22; 95% CrI, 0.97-12.55).

Tetracycline for vaping cessation?
Meanwhile, researchers are now conducting a clinical trial to see if the compound may similarly help vapers. Nancy Rigotti, MD is the Director of the Tobacco Research and Treatment unit at Mass. General Hospital. She said that many vapers are struggling to quit, hence why they are testing Cytisinicline as a quit vaping tool. “Some of them are able to quit, but a lot of them are having trouble.”

Cytisinicline is believed to block the rush from nicotine and reduce withdrawal symptoms. However, the drug is controversial as its known to cause moderate to severe psychological side effects, ranging from horrifying nightmares to suicidal thoughts.