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Columbia University: Over 50% of daily vapers quit smoking long-term

For American adults with an established addiction to smoking over the past five years, more than 50% of daily vapers have successfully quit smoking permanently.  These statistics come by way of newly published research by a team of scientists from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and the Rutgers School of Public Health.  And the study is one of the first of its kind to document the effectiveness of vaping as a smoking cessation tool of preference.

The same research also suggests that only about 28% of smokers have quit long-term by never trying e-cigarettes, perhaps by way of the cold-turkey approach, a Big Pharma NRT, or some other alternative method.  Meanwhile, daily vapers were three times more likely to quit smoking compared to non-vapers.  The study entitled Prevalence of population smoking cessation by electronic cigarette use status in a national sample of recent smokers is readily available for review online in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

Overview of the Columbia vaping study

The research began with a control group of over 15,000 participants using statistics acquired from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) published in 2014 and 2015.  The control group was whittled down to include only former and current smokers who had quit sometime after 2010.  This is the year that the rapid rise in popularity of vaping became truly noteworthy.

25.2% were former smokers.  The remainder were classified as current smokers.  The scientists then evaluated each of the participants to determine the following criteria before confirming acceptance into the case study. 

  • Current smokers were defined as those who smoked “every day” or “some days.”
  • Former smokers were classified as individuals who had:
    • Quit smoking within the past four years
    • Have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in the past
    • Currently smoke “not at all.”
  • Participants' desire levels to quit smoking were carefully defined.
  • Age, race/ethnicity, educational levels, quality of health insurance was documented.
  • Smoking habits of current smokers were identified.
  • Histories of previous attempts to quit smoking were chronicled.
  • Use of other smoking cessation methodologies or NRTs was also recorded.

The scientists also identified any other significant factors known to enhance or inhibit success rates of quitting smoking, such as medical conditions, mental health disorders, stress issues, and other demographic and geographic variables.


The Columbia/ Rutgers research team took painstaking efforts to learn as much about each participant as possible before the study even began.  Not only did they discover that smokers-turned-vapers are three times more likely to quit smoking with an approximate 52% success rate, the scientists were able to identify which demographics typically achieve higher rates of success.

For example, the data shows that former smokers are more likely to be under the age of 34.  They are also more likely to have better health insurance and a higher educational level.  48.9% of the currently smoking participants had also tried unsuccessfully to quit smoking in the 12-months preceding the study.

Furthermore, daily vapers are predicted to be more successful than intermittent vapers or dual users.  Lead author Dr. Daniel Giovenco is such a fan of vaping that he even publicly praises the recent FDA announcement to delay implementation of deeming regulations until 2022. 

“While questions regarding the efficacy of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation remain, our findings suggest that frequent e-cigarette use may play an important role in cessation or relapse prevention for some smokers.”
- Columbia University’s Dr. Daniel Giovenco, PhD, lead author


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