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Not enough evidence that e-cigarettes help to quit smoking

There are substantial research gaps in proving the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as quit smoking aids.

The 2018 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report found limited evidence on the effectiveness of e-cigarettes to promote quitting. Additionally, e-cigarettes are not approved as quit aids by the U.S. Preventative Service Task Force.

There is, however, some evidence that supports the use of e-cigarettes as quit devices. A study published in 2016 reported that within two randomized control trials, e-cigarettes with nicotine helped individuals quit better than e-cigarettes without nicotine.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report also reported that more frequent e-cigarette use may increase an individual’s likelihood to quit.

But while some e-cigarettes may be an effective resource for quitting smoking, the variation in product quality and the lack of regulation make determining the potential of any particular product as a quit aid difficult.

Although there is limited research currently supporting e-cigarette use for quitting, a smoker who switches completely to e-cigarettes from combustible cigarettes will substantially reduce exposure to toxic chemicals and health risks. Some smokers have switched to e-cigarettes or used them to quit tobacco completely. Truth Initiative supports regulation that encourages the development of consistently less harmful nicotine delivery alternatives that allow smokers to quit tobacco altogether, or switch completely to a much less harmful product.

Product appeal - including flavouring - is likely to encourage smokers to try to use e-cigarettes to quit or switch completely. But, because flavours also appeal to youth, manufacturers should be prohibited from marketing flavoured e-cigarettes unless they can show that the product helps adults switch and it is not attracting significant youth uptake (as verified by careful postmarket surveillance).

* This article first appeared on the Truth Initiative's website.

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