Further evidence that e-cigarettes are reducing smoking rates

Posted by DrMendelsohn on 27 July, 2017

E-cigarettes are helping to reduce the number of smokers in the United States, according to a large study published in the British Medical Journal today.

Smokers who used e-cigarettes were more likely to make a quit attempt than those who didn't and were 73% more likely to succeed, 8.5% vs 4.8% respectively, as shown in the following graph.

Zhu 2017. Annual cessation rates in US 2001-2015 no Fig info.jpg
The overall population quit rate in the US has remained steady at about 4.5% pa for many years. It jumped to 5.6% overall in 2014-2015, representing about 350,000 additional smokers who quit compared to previous years. This was the first recorded rise in the smoking cessation rate in 15 years.

The authors examined other possible causes of the increased quit rate, such as tax rises and public health marketing campaigns. However, these factors were not enough to explain the dramatic increase in quit rates. It is likely that these factors work together:

‘tobacco control campaigns increased smokers’ desire to quit, and e-cigarettes increased the probability of motivated smokers making a quit attempt and staying abstinent’.

In an accompanying editorial, Professor Chris Bullen says the study suggests that when ready access to these devices is available:

'... substantial numbers of smokers will make the transition away from smoking, and a substantial population benefit can result'

Other findings from the study were:

  • Ecig use among non-smokers was rare. Only 0.3% of never-smokers currently used ecig users
  • The highest rates of ecig use was in recent quitters, of whom 49.3% were using ecigs
  • The only group of smokers to have increased quit rates in 2014-2015 was the ecig-user group.

The is the largest study to date on e-cigarette users and used data from the US Current Population Survey-Tobacco Use Supplement (CPS-TUS).



Zhu S. E-cigarette use and associated changes in population smoking cessation. British Medical Journal 2017


Other news stories on this study

Support grows to legalise e-cigarettes in Australia. ABC News

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit. AP News

E-cigarette use sees more US smokers quit. Sky News

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