Posted on April 12, 2022 By Colin
The first Australian real-world study of vaping nicotine has found that using e-cigarettes to quit increased the odds of success by 68%-124% compared to not using a vape. The results suggest vaping may be more effective than NRT and other stop smoking medications.
The study published in the journal Addiction today, included 1,601 smokers in the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey who had attempted to quit in the previous 12 months. Successful quitting was defined as self-reported abstinence of at least 4 weeks.
The best results were in vapers who sourced e-liquid from overseas websites. This increased the odds of success by 124% compared to not vaping.
The findings are consistent with population studies in other countries such as the United States and England which also found that smokers who vape are more likely to quit than those who don't.
The results from this study are likely to be even more impressive for several other reasons
Vaping nicotine was the most effective quitting method. The next most effective quitting aid was a smartphone app, which increased the odds of quitting by 74% compared to not using an app.
Combining vaping with a smartphone app increased the odds of quitting by 3 times compared to using neither.
A vape-friendly, evidence-based smartphone app is the Smoke Free app.
Smoking pills (Champix and Zyban) increased quit rates by only 22% compared to not using pills.
However other methods were associated with reduced quit rates. Smokers who asked a doctor for help had a 12% lower quit rate compared to those who did not seek a doctor’s help. NRT users had a 25% reduced chance of quitting compared to those who did not use NRT. Those who used Quitline had a 50% reduction in quit rates.
This finding is consistent with an analysis by the UK National Institute for Health Research of 171 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) using a technique called a "network meta-analysis". The analysis found that electronic cigarettes were the most effective quitting aid, followed by Champix and, nicotine replacement therapy.
Public Health England also concluded in 2021 that
“Quit rates involving a vaping product were higher than any other method in every region in England”
The position statement of the Australian government says there is “insufficient evidence of the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid” to justify Australia’s anti-vaping policy.
According to the author of this study, Dr Mark Chambers from the University of New South Wales
“The present study provides evidence that Australians that used e-cigarettes for smoking cessation attempts in 2019 were more successful than those that did not. Therefore, improving access to nicotine e-cigarettes in Australia could be expected to assist some Australian smokers to quit.”
Key reviews published in the last few years here and here have found that the evidence for vaping as a quitting aid has strengthened and is further boosted by this study.
Vaping is also the most popular quitting aid and can reach more smokers. It could have a substantial impact on public health, especially for the more disadvantaged groups with the highest smoking rates.
These benefits should be considered when reviewing Australia’s current policy on vaping.
Chambers M. Effect of vaping on past-year smoking cessation success of Australians in 2019 – evidence from a national survey. Addiction 2022