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What does the latest Cochrane Review tell us about e-cigarettes as a stop smoking aid?

Looking for more information on the Cochrane Review? The London Tobacco Alliance brings you up to speed with the latest findings from the Cochrane Review on e-cigarettes.

What is a Cochrane Review and what does it mean for e-cigarettes and quitting smoking?

Looking for more information on the Cochrane Review? The London Tobacco Alliance brings you up to speed with the latest findings from the Cochrane Review on e-cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes (ECs) are handheld electronic vaping devices which produce an aerosol by heating an e-liquid. E-cigarettes are commonly used by smokers as an aid to help stop smoking or reduce their number of cigarettes.

However, there is uncertainty surrounding e-cigarettes, with some organisations, advocacy groups and legislators having discouraged e-cigarettes, citing a lack of evidence of efficacy and safety. There is also growing concern regarding the number of young people using e-cigarettes across the UK.

The purpose of the Cochrane Review was to inform smokers, healthcare providers and regulators as to whether e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking, and if they are safe to use for this purpose.

The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases containing different variations of high-quality, independent evidence used to inform healthcare decision-making across the globe.

They are internationally recognized as the highest standard in evidence-based health care and are an accredited source frequently referenced by medical professionals, charities and elected officials.

Here’s everything you need to know about the latest Cochrane Review on e-cigarettes

The study’s findings – e-cigarettes are most effective for quitting smoking

The latest Cochrane Review has published evidence stating that nicotine e-cigarettes are more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) in helping people quit smoking.

Published in November 2022 in the Cochrane Library, the review also found that people are more likely to stop smoking for at least six months using nicotine e-cigarettes, or ‘vapes’, than using nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches and gums.

The evidence within the Cochrane Review also suggests that nicotine e-cigarettes led to higher quit rates than e-cigarettes without nicotine, or no stop smoking intervention, but fewer data contributed to these analyses. The updated Cochrane review includes 78 studies with over 22,000 participants – an additional 22 studies since the last update in 2021.

How this information can be used to help people quit smoking

What’s the purpose of e-cigarettes? These devices heat liquids with nicotine and flavourings, allowing users to ‘vape’ nicotine instead of smoking.

Data from the review showed that if six in 100 people quit using nicotine replacement therapy, eight to twelve would quit using electronic cigarettes containing nicotine. This means an additional two to six people in 100 could potentially quit smoking using electronic cigarettes.

The report concludes that more evidence, particularly around the effects of newer e-cigarettes with better nicotine delivery than earlier models, is needed to assist more people quit smoking.

Smokers may ask if “e-cigarettes make it harder to stop smoking? The Cochrane Review concluded that there is high certainty evidence that e-cigarettes with nicotine increase quit rates compared to NRT and moderate certainty evidence that they increase quit rates compared to e-cigarettes without nicotine.

How to get started with using e-cigarettes to quit smoking

It’s widely known that nicotine is an addictive substance found in cigarettes. Nicotine causes a powerful addiction in the brain and although relatively harmless when consumed, the debilitating illnesses and diseases caused by smoking originate from the thousands of other toxic chemicals in tobacco and cigarettes.

Is vaping a good way to stop smoking? Studies have shown that smokers are three times more likely to quit smoking with the right support. The best chance of stopping is with a combination of personalised support and stop smoking aids such as nicotine replacement therapy, e-cigarettes, or medication.

NRT, or nicotine replacement therapy such as nicotine patches and gum are great smoking cessation tools and are scientifically proven to be extremely effective in helping a smoker to stop.

For help to stop smoking, speak to your Local Stop Smoking Service, GP or pharmacist, or call the Stop Smoking helpline for free on 0300 123 1044.

In summary

It is clear from the Cochrane Review that e-cigarettes are an important and highly effective tool for helping people quit smoking for good, although further research is needed to fully understand the health impact of vapes in the long term.  You can read the published Cochrane Review here.

At London Tobacco Alliance, we are accelerating efforts of eliminating smoking in London and tackling smoking inequalities through our coordinated approach with key partners and members. Our main objectives include preventing people from smoking in the first place, supporting people to stop/quit smoking and promoting smoke-free environments.

Join the London Tobacco Alliance

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