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New research says vaping helps smokers quit

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A new European study shows that more tobacco smokers are able to give up their habit with the aid of e-cigarettes than people who use other methods to stop.

Researchers at the University of Bern have just released a new report which shows that smokers who vape are more likely to give up, but they are also more likely to stay addicted to the nicotine.

A six-month study

The researchers tracked over a thousand regular smokers for six months.

The Bern study recruited 1246 regular smokers, aged mostly around the age of 40, the majority smoked 15 or more cigarettes each day.

622 participants were assigned to what they describe as the intervention group.

People in this group were given as many e-cigarettes as they needed in any flavour of their choosing in addition to other aids to give up smoking like nicotine patches and counselling.

The remaining participants were given counselling and other aids, but not e-cigarettes.

After six months 29% of the group who were given vapes managed to stop smoking continuously throughout the six month study period compared to just 16% of the group who were given other products.

Overall at the end of the study 60% of the people who vaped had given up smoking compared with 40% of people who gave up without the help of e-cigarettes.

Lead author Dr Reto Auer a Professor of Medicine at the University of Bern says his findings support other studies which show similar results.

Ongoing research into vaping safety

The Swiss team now aims to track the study group over five years.

“What we also aimed at is really to look very carefully at the safety," says Auer. "Also the study is ongoing we will follow participants up on 12, 24, months, but also at five years that mean 60 months to continue to see how over time, participants use these products and about long term health."

Auer adds,  “I'm a primary care doctor and smoking cessation is a core element of my daily clinical practice. So it's really important to know if people stop smoking and I think that becoming really clear in the literature that it helps to quit smoking.”

External experts say the study supports growing evidence that vaping is better at helping people to stop smoking.

Dr Sarah Jackson is a principal investigator at the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group at University College London and was not involved in this research.

“So people who were given free e-cigarettes and e-liquid were almost twice as likely to quit smoking for at least six months than those who received usual care," says Jackson. "The study also assessed to assess the safety of using e-cigarettes to quit, finding no difference in the rate of serious adverse events or respiratory symptoms between groups."

Concern over attracting youth to smoking

There’s been growing concern in several countries that vapes which come in a wide range of sweet flavours may attract youngsters who’ve never smoked to become nicotine addicts.

Jackson believes this is a dilemma facing many countries.

“It's a really delicate balancing act, because what we want to do is try and make sure that these products are as attractive and appealing as they can be to people who smoke, to encourage them to switch to a much less harmful product," she says. 

"But in doing so, we don't want to make them too attractive to young people in particular who have never smoked. So it's it's a careful balancing act that requires trade offs. But I think it's essential that we don't make these effective smoking cessation aids less attractive to people who smoke by removing the flavours."

Auer agrees, saying, “It's the central conundrum we'll always have with e-cigarettes: on one side helping smokers quit. And on the other side, avoiding that adolescents become addicted to nicotine.”

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