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UK vape study: In the race to quit smoking, e-cigs beat NRTs by huge margin

According to published research by UK scientists, e-cigs can be potentially twice as effective than Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs) in helping people to quit smoking.  Led by Dr. Jamie Brown of the Cancer Research UK Health Behavior Research Centre, the vaping study was conducted in coordination with a team of scientists from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies. 

The authors of the study began by soliciting a control group of volunteers consisting of 5,863 adults who had smoked tobacco cigarettes at some time in the prior twelve months.  The participants had also attempted to quit smoking at least once during the same timeframe by one of the below methods.

  • Electronic cigarettes only
  • A single NRT only
  • The Cold-Turkey Method only

Furthermore, all participants had remained free of any prescription medications designed to enhance smoking cessation during the 12-month period.  They also never solicited professional behavioral counseling of any kind to assist in their attempts to quit. What the scientists discovered is the following.

  • The “e-cig only” group exhibited an Odds Ratio (OR) of 2.23 for quitting smoking compared to the “NRT only” group. To put this another way, the chances for success in quitting smoking by the “e-cig only” group have the potential to be more than double that of the “NRT only” group.
  • The “e-cig only” group exhibited an Odds Ratio (OR) of 1.38 for quitting smoking compared to the “Cold Turkey” group. Again, to rephrase, the chances for success in quitting smoking have the potential to be almost 40 percent greater in the “e-cig only” group as compared to the “Cold Turkey” group.


The UK vaping study entitled Real-world effectiveness of e-cigarettes when used to aid smoking cessation: a cross-sectional population study is readily available for review in the Wiley Online Library and in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (NLM/NIH).  The conclusions section of the research paper contains the following quote.

“Among smokers who have attempted to stop without professional support, those who use e-cigarettes are more likely to report continued abstinence than those who used a licensed NRT product bought over-the-counter or no aid to cessation. This difference persists after adjusting for a range of smoker characteristics such as nicotine dependence.”

Are e-cigs really twice as effective as NRTs?

To be clear, the 2.23 OT figure from the UK vaping study does not automatically mean that e-cigs are over twice as effective as NRTs.  But the “potential” is there.  Carl V. Phelps of the website EP-ology.com makes this very clear. 

According to Phelps, the scientific OR of 2.23 assumes that all people are identical to one another.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  After all, every addict – whether he or she is addicted to smoking, prescription drugs, alcohol, or sex- has very different personalities, triggers, and addiction-related habits.  Therefore, the success rates of different smoking cessation methods will vary depending on the individual.

The truly noteworthy aspect of this UK vaping study is the methodology behind choosing the participants by the research team.  Unlike several other anti-vaping studies conducted by such unreliable organizations like the FDA and the CDC, the UK study chose only participants who were truly emotionally invested in quitting smoking.  Many studies published by the CDC include participants in their vaping research who may have only tried an e-cig once in the past 12-months, which can lead to “significantly flawed conclusions”, according to the study’s co-authors.


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