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Research Shows Vaping Helps Smokers Quit

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We know smoking is hard to quit, and that’s if you’re wanting to. But, what if you’re not planning on smoking and vaping helps you anyway? Recent research shows that vaping has snuck up on a few folks in a very good, harm reduction-like way.

Gallup’s recent numbers say that American smoking rates are at a record low — 16 percent. While the smoking rate is on the decline, one in six Americans still smoke, and we don’t have to go over the death rate numbers of tobacco use. (Hint: they aren’t good.) The Royal College Physicians in the UK concluded that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than analog smoking, and it’s clear that vaping can be attributed to the smoking decline. In fact, since 2012, when e-cigarettes were gaining in popularity in America, smoking rates have fallen by nearly 25 percent.

The Center for Substance Use Research in Glasgow, Scotland, surveyed almost 19,000 vapers, and Inside Sources reports that the research showed the “negative association between e-cigarettes and smoking is causative, not merely correlative.” Items to note:

  • Two-thirds of respondents who were current smokers at the time they began vaping quit smoking. The quit rate of other nicotine replacement therapies was only 7 percent.
  • More than one-half of surveyed smokers who couldn’t quit reduced smoking by 50 to 99 percent after starting vaping.
  • Only 2 percent of those who hadn’t smoked cigarettes before vaping started after, making the gateway to smoking argument invalid.

Recent Centers for Disease Control data falls in line with the Center for Substance Use Research study, and the center has went on record saying at least 2.5 million American e-cigarettes users have quit traditional smoking. Inside Sources also notes Dr. Michael Siegel’s words that e-cigarettes “are the singular technology that could put an end to smoking.” Siegel is a preventive medicine physician at Boston University’s School of Public Health.

Smokers who are a stubborn lot and who don’t want to kick the habit to begin with are also in luck. Lead author of more research, Dr. Caitlin Notley from University of East Anglia's Norwich Medical School, also concurs with the CDC’s numbers. She told Science 20 that using vaping as a harm reduction tool remains controversial, but her team “wanted to find out about how people use e-cigarettes to quit smoking — and whether vaping supports long-term smoking abstinence."

Her team interviewed 40 vapers and asked them a set of questions regarding smoking and vaping ranging from quit attempts, preferred flavors and whether they had switched to vaping to quit smoking.

Notley told Science 20: "We found that vaping may support long-term smoking abstinence. Not only does it substitute many of the physical, psychological, social and cultural elements of cigarette smoking, but it is pleasurable in its own right, as well as convenient and cheaper than smoking. Our study group also felt better in themselves — they noticed better respiratory function, taste and smell. But the really interesting thing we found was that vaping may also encourage people who don't even want to stop smoking, to eventually quit."

Seventeen percent of the group were deemed “accidental quitters,” who had never attempted to quit and enjoyed smoking. Notley said they tried vaping “on a whim” or because friends had offered it. They viewed vaping as a “potential substitute for smoking” and saw it as a “no pressure approach to quitting.”

Most of the group switched entirely to vaping, while some turned into dual users.

Notley noted, "We found that people did occasionally relapse with a cigarette, mainly due to social or emotional reasons, but it didn't necessarily lead to a full relapse. This study suggests that vaping is a viable long-term substitute for smoking, with substantial implications for tobacco harm reduction.”