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Vaping is twice as effective than NRTs for smoking cessation, says new study

The results of a newly released randomized trial indicates that smokers who switch to vaping are twice as more likely to quit permanently compared to more conventional nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs).  Within the vaping community, this is already old news, but current U.S. surveys indicate that about 45 percent of the general population mistakenly believe that vaping is just as hazardous to one’s health as smoking.  And another 9 percent even believe that vaping is worse.

A new study led by Dr. Peter Hajek of the Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine at Queen Mary University in London began by randomly selecting some 886 adults to participate in their clinical trial.  The participants were current or former smokers who were also actively accepting government-funded services for smoking cessation counseling through the UK’s National Health Service. 

Overview of the Wolfson vaping study

The study entitled A Randomized Trial of E-Cigarettes versus Nicotine-Replacement Therapy was published in February 2019 via the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).   For 90-days, each participant was provided free products of their choice for aiding them in quitting smoking.  Their options included numerous NRTs like nicotine-enhanced patches, lozenges, and gums.  The participants were also given the choice to select an “e-cigarette starter pack” consisting of a second generation refillable vape device and e-liquid augmented with 18mg strength of nicotine.

Related Article: Research: Proposed FDA vaping ban will negatively impact U.S. military soldiers

Those participants choosing vaping could also modify their nicotine strengths if desired throughout the course of the trial.   They could also choose any flavor of e-juice that they liked, as well.

This is particularly noteworthy for American public health officials who largely demonize flavored vapes as an incitement for an often-debated “teen vaping epidemic” cleverly crafted and promoted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the past year.   These sorts of widespread anti-vaping campaigns are often attributed to the general population’s consistently rising mistrust of vaping as a healthier and safer alternative to smoking. 

Related Article:  In case you missed it: New poll shows 45% of USA wrongly believes e-cigs are as ‘harmful’ as smoking

Throughout the course of the 3-month trial, each participant also received professional behavioral counseling for at least 4-weeks to help them battle any possible side effects related to making their respective transitions.  Biochemical validation would also confirm whether the individuals involved remained smoke-free or not.  Those who did not pass the biochemical validation processes were discarded from the trial. 

What the Wolfson team determined is that approximately 18 percent of the 886 participants successfully quit smoking for an entire year compared to only 9.9 percent of the NRT group.  80 percent of the vaping group were also determined to still be using their vaping gear after the 1-year time frame compared to about 9 percent of the nicotine replacement group.  Furthermore, the incurrences of nasty side effects such as coughing and wheezing that often arise when quitting smoking also diminished with comparable differing margins.

“A total of 886 participants underwent randomization. The 1-year abstinence rate was 18.0% in the e-cigarette group, as compared with 9.9% in the nicotine-replacement group (relative risk, 1.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.30 to 2.58; P<0.001). Among participants with 1-year abstinence, those in the e-cigarette group were more likely than those in the nicotine-replacement group to use their assigned product at 52 weeks (80% [63 of 79 participants] vs. 9% [4 of 44 participants]).” 
 
“The e-cigarette group reported greater declines in the incidence of cough and phlegm production from baseline to 52 weeks than did the nicotine-replacement group (relative risk for cough, 0.8; 95% CI, 0.6 to 0.9; relative risk for phlegm, 0.7; 95% CI, 0.6 to 0.9). There were no significant between-group differences in the incidence of wheezing or shortness of breath.”
 

In the conclusion to the report, the Wolfson scientists clearly state that “e-cigarettes were more effective for smoking cessation than nicotine-replacement therapy.”  The report also notes that the clinical trial was funded in part by Cancer Research UK.  This organization is also a contributing member to the groundbreaking 2015 research published by Public Health England which was the first to announce scientific evidence indicating that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking. 

Related Article:   Brits predict Bristol will be first city to go entirely smoke-free by 2024

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