E-cigarettes better than gum or patches to help smokers quit, UEA research finds
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Electronic cigarettes could increase the number of people who stop smoking, compared to nicotine replacement therapy – such as chewing gum and patches – according to scientists from the University of East Anglia.
But the research team has stressed more evidence is needed on the potential long-term harm of using e-cigarettes.
The team looked at evidence from four studies, which showed more people who used nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes quit smoking than those who received only behavioural support or no support.
If four people in 100 quit with no support, an additional six people in 100 might quit by using nicotine electronic cigarettes.
Prof Caitlin Notley, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said; “It is encouraging that we now have more robust clinical trial evidence to draw upon, demonstrating that nicotine containing e-cigarettes can help more people to quit smoking than traditional nicotine replacement therapy.
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“This might be because e cigarettes mimic the behaviour of smoking as well as providing nicotine to ex-smokers who are dependent on nicotine.
“Although we don’t yet have long term evidence on health harms of switching to e-cigarettes, the evidence clearly demonstrates that e-cigarettes are much safer than continuing to smoke tobacco.
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“Short term harms of e cigarettes, such as a sore throat or feeling nauseous, are of a similar magnitude to the short term side effects of nicotine replacement therapy.
“Given the raising number of coronavirus infections and the approaching winter flu season, it is more important now than ever that smokers are supported to quit.
“E-cigarettes might be a good option for people to try if they have tried and failed to quit in the past.”
The research team updated a Cochrane Review comparing the effects of electronic cigarettes with other ways of delivering nicotine – such as patches and chewing gum – or with dummy electronic cigarettes that do not contain nicotine or no treatment.
This updated review now includes 50 studies, an increase of 35 studies since it was last published in 2016. Twenty-four of these are uncontrolled studies, but their results support the data from the randomised controlled trials.