Evidence that electronic cigarettes can help smokers to quit

Author: Action on Smoking and Health

Date: DEC 2014

The internationally renowned Cochrane Library has reviewed the evidence and concluded that smokers who use electronic cigarettes can quit or reduce their smoking. The review draws on two randomised trials comprising a total of 662 current smokers. It found that about 9% of smokers who had used electronic cigarettes were able to stop smoking at up to one year. This compares with around 4% of smokers who used nicotine-free placebo electronic cigarettes.

Among smokers who had not quit, researchers found that 36% of electronic cigarette users reduced their consumption of tobacco cigarettes by half. This compared with 28% of users who were given placebos. One of the trials compared the efficacy of electronic cigarettes with nicotine patches and found similar results.

Cochrane’s Editor in Chief David Tovey said that this was an important study but cautioned that further research would be needed, particularly to review the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes compared to other ways of stopping smoking.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

Cochrane reviews are world renowned for their systematic analysis of the evidence. Electronic cigarettes are used by millions of smokers in the UK but the risks and benefits have been heavily disputed. This timely review indicates that that these products have a role to play in helping smokers quit. It should stimulate more research, which is just what is needed in this important area of public health which has the potential to save so many lives.

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Last revised: 17 December 2017

Next review: 17 December 2020