More than half of the people who smoke e-cigarettes want to quit them, and more than a quarter of vapers have tried to stop, according to a recent Rutgers University study.
And while e-cigarettes have been marketed as a way to help kick the habit of smoking traditional cigarettes, vapers report resorting to the same quitting tools and strategies as conventional smokers.
The study, published in May 2019 in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, examined data on nearly 1,800 e-cigarette users from the US Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study. An estimated 10 million American adults smoke e-cigarettes.
“Most of the discussion about e-cigarettes has focused on the relative harm as compared to traditional cigarettes, the efficacy of e-cigarettes as a cessation device and the alarming increase in their use in children.
“In addition to those issues, our data suggests that e-cigarette users do not want to use these devices forever,” said study co-author Dr Marc Steinberg, an associate professor of psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in the United States.
“Eventually, they want to stop using e-cigarettes the same way a traditional smoker wants to quit smoking cigarettes,” said the director of Rutgers’ Tobacco Research and Intervention lab.
The study found that nearly two-thirds of those e-cigarette users intended to eventually quit vaping for good.
More than 25% of them reported trying to quit in the past year – nearly 13% attempted to quit cold turkey, while almost 14% tried to stop gradually.
Of these vapers, about 55% said they also smoked conventional cigarettes. Nearly 51% were 18- to 34-years-old; close to 57% were male and 82% were white.
According to the study, the e-cigarette users turned to many of the same cessation aids as regular cigarette smokers – about a quarter sought support from family and friends, and 11% turned to counselling or self-help materials.
Among the e-cigarette users who used US Food and Drug Administration-approved smoking cessation products, 74% who tried cessation aids like nicotine gum or patches endorsed them and nearly 67% of those who tried smoking cessation medications endorsed that quit method.
“While e-cigarettes may be associated with reduced harm as compared to combustible cigarettes, they are also potentially addicting and the e-cigarette aerosol still contains toxic substances,” said Rachel Rosen, a study author and graduate student in Rutgers’ psychiatry department.
“As e-cigarette use continues to increase and as more e-cigarette users want to quit, it will be important to be ready to help those who may have difficulty stopping on their own.”
Critics of e-cigarettes say that while the products were initially billed as a somewhat safer way to smoke than traditional cigarettes – a claim that’s come into question – many manufacturers have marketed the e-products aggressively to youthful users.
There is also limited research on their effectiveness in helping users quit conventional cigarettes.
A study published in early 2019 in the New England Journal of Medicine noted an 18% one-year abstinence rate among smokers who switched to e-cigarettes, compared to an approximately 10% one-year abstinence rate among conventional cigarette smokers who tried to quit with nicotine-replacement products.
The Rutgers study did not assess the effectiveness of the various cessation strategies for people who wanted to stop using e-cigarettes and the researchers suggested that as an area for future study. – Philly.com/Tribune News Service