I recently had my attention drawn to an article on the website 'New Scientist' entitled 'E-cigarettes are no better than alternative aids to quit smoking'. With that as the headline, I had to take a look of course. What I found wasn't quite what I was expecting. The article starts with this statement:
“People who use e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking are no more likely to be abstinent a year later than those who use alternative aids or nothing at all. These individuals are also more likely to remain dependent on nicotine.”
Many people are able to stop smoking using nothing other than willpower alone and it's great that they are just as likely to remain smoke free as people who use e-cigarettes. That doesn't seem that surprising to me. Once you have managed to quit smoking for good (by whatever means) then I can't imagine that how you did that would have any bearing on the future. You'll either go back to smoking, or you won't.
I'm not really sure the latter part of this statement is much of a shock to people either, certainly not to people who use e-cigarettes. The vast majority of e-cigarette users are vaping as a much less harmful way to get the nicotine they are dependent on and to enjoy the act of vaping with a cup of coffee, on a break from work or after a meal.
I see vaping, vapour products and e-cigarettes as a direct and less harmful alternative, designed to replace and replicate the smoking experience. We've talked about this before in my blogs, but nicotine dependence is not the primary concern for most e-cigarette users, it's having to inhale the very toxic and dangerous tobacco smoke that e-cigarettes completely get rid of. Almost all 'alternative aids' are simply a fairly unpleasant way to wean yourself off nicotine, they aren't a genuine less harmful alternative to smoking.
One of the people involved, John Pierce from the University of California, San Diego (who conducted the study) makes the comment.
“When you look in the population, there’s no benefit to using e-cigarettes to quit”
The benefit is obvious to people like me, people who smoked for decades.
People that finally, after years of trying to quit with other products, managed to stop smoking for good using an e-cigarette. I can only presume that John Pierce has never smoked, has never tried to quit smoking. Has never seen members of his family go through really bad times trying to quit using every method they could find trying to find the right one for them.
That is the key point here, e-cigarettes won't work for everyone and nobody has claimed they will. Likewise patches, sprays and willpower alone do not work for everyone either. Smokers need options, they need choices and that's the biggest benefit of e-cigarettes... it gives people another choice.
Nearer the bottom of the article it admits that:
The findings contradict several other studies that suggest that e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking“
I was still reading the article in the hope that I might read something that wasn't entirely meaningless but alas it just goes on and on with the same pointless quotes. “E-cigarettes are not harmless” no, we know that, but they are far, far less harmful than smoking. “In these studies, e-cigarettes don’t come out very well, but neither does anything else” … no better, no worse then? So what exactly is the point? Where is the 'science' in this 'New Scientist' article? I have to say I'm feeling very disappointed, it's not even very good as an anti-vaping piece.
They could have ran the same article with the headline
“New University of California study contradicts several other studies that suggest that e-cigarettes do help many people quit smoking”
… I can't help but wonder why they didn't?