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Cochrane Review says nicotine vaping helps smokers stop smoking

MANY smokers try to start the New Year with a resolution to kick the habit but doing so, either with nicotine-replacement patches or simply going cold turkey, is easier said than done.

Just ask the next person you see lighting up a cigarette if they’ve tried quitting.

While there is no faulting their motivation to kick the habit, it could be that they are going about it the less effective way, or so a newly updated review by Cochrane would suggest. 

Cochrane is a prestigious international healthcare organisation with members and supporters from more than 130 countries and widely considered for producing high-quality, relevant, up-to-date systematic reviews and other synthesised research evidence to help healthcare decision-making all over the world.

The updated Cochrane Review on Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation, looked at 50 studies that took place in USA, the UK, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Belgium, Canada, Poland, South Korea, South Africa, Switzerland and Turkey. The review found that e-cigarettes, more commonly known as vape, could be the answer many smokers are looking for.

Among the key findings were that smokers were likely to stop smoking for at least six months by switching to vape with nicotine e-liquid as compared to nicotine replacement therapy, nicotine-free vape or behavioural support.

The researchers, made up of multiple independent and internationally-renowned healthcare experts, found that vape with nicotine e-liquid can help 10 in 100 people to stop smoking, compared to only 6 in 100 people who have tried using nicotine-replacement therapy or nicotine-free vape. Only an estimated 4 in 100 who try to quit without support, or those who rely only on behavioural support, are likely to succeed. 

Among the key findings were that smokers were likely to stop smoking for at least six months by switching to vape with nicotine e-liquid as compared to nicotine replacement therapy, nicotine-free vape or behavioural support. - Cochrane Review

They also did not detect any clear evidence of serious harm from vape with nicotine e-liquid. 

Jamie Hartmann-Boyce from the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group said there is an increase in evidence of smoking cessation through the use of vape with nicotine e-liquid compared to the last review in 2016.

“The randomised evidence on smoking cessation has increased since the last version of the review and there is now evidence that electronic cigarettes with nicotine are likely to increase the chances of quitting successfully compared to nicotine gum or patches,” said Hartmann-Boyce, the lead author of the review.

“While there is currently no clear evidence of any serious side effects, there is considerable uncertainty about the harms of electronic cigarettes and longer-term data are needed. Scientific consensus holds that electronic cigarettes are considerably less harmful than traditional cigarettes, but not risk-free.”

Experts in the UK have also welcomed findings from the Cochrane review.

Prof John Britton, Emeritus Professor of Respiratory Medicine, University of Nottingham, UK, said, “This comprehensive review of all data on the efficacy of electronic cigarettes in helping people to quit provides definitive confirmation that electronic cigarettes offer smokers an effective means of quitting, and perhaps even more so than some licensed stop-smoking medicines. 

It therefore endorses the UK policy of promoting electronic cigarettes as a consumer product that can help smokers quit smoking completely, and supports the recommendation of electronic cigarettes in the NHS (UK National Health Service).” 

Prof Peter Hajek, contributing senior author to the Cochrane Review and Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, UK, said, “E-cigarettes are a form of nicotine replacement that is more attractive to smokers and that seems more effective than the earlier products. 

The results of this new review of randomised trials of vaping tally with other evidence from cohort and epidemiological studies, suggesting that for many smokers, e-cigarettes represent an effective tool for quitting smoking.

It is also important to note that the studies detected no evidence of harm from vaping in people using e-cigarettes for up to two years.”

Recently, Cochrane and Malaysian Ministry of Health joined together to provide full access to the world-renowned Cochrane Library across Malaysia and this review, available on its website, adds to the growing evidence pointing to the effectiveness of vaping in helping smokers wean off the smoking habit.

Source: News Straits Times

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