E-cigarettes are almost twice as effective at helping smokers quit as nicotine replacement therapies such as lozenges and patches, according to a new study that immediately stoked the debate over whether e-cigarettes are an important smoking-cessation tool or a health menace.
The study, published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine, is the first randomized trial to test the effectiveness of modern e-cigarettes vs. nicotine-replacement products, said Peter Hajek, a psychologist at Queen Mary University of London, who led the trial. The researchers found that 18 percent of the e-cigarette users were smoke-free after a year, compared with 9.9 percent of those in the nicotine-replacement group. The participants also received behavioral support to .
For years, physicians have been reluctant to recommend e-cigarettes for smoking cessation because of a lack of clinical trial data, Hajek said. “This is now likely to change,” he added in a statement.
She noted e-cigarettes pose some serious risks, including potential harm to the lungs caused by flavorings — as well as the possibility that some people will end up using both regular and the electronic versions.
The other editorial called on the FDA to immediately ban all flavored e-cigarettes, saying such are responsible for a huge increase in teen vaping. “We fear that the creation of a generation of nicotine-addicted teenagers will lead to a resurgence in the use of combustible tobacco in the decades to come,” said lead author Jeffrey Drazen, editor in chief of NEJM. Such a ban would go far beyond FDA’s plans to sharply restrict sales of flavored e-cigarette products, other than mint and menthol.