Strongest evidence yet that vaping is more effective than NRT – Cochrane update

Posted on November 17, 2022 By Colin

RESEARCH FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD has found the strongest evidence yet that nicotine vapes help people to quit smoking more than traditional nicotine replacement therapies (NRT), such as patches and chewing gums. 

The latest Cochrane Review published today concluded for the first-time that there is “high certainty” evidence that smokers are more likely to quit using nicotine e-cigarettes, than using nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches and gums. The updated review includes 78 studies in over 22,000 participants.

Cochrane reviews are widely regarded as the most authoritative summaries of the state of evidence

Compared with quitting without any form of nicotine, six in 100 extra people will quit by using nicotine replacement therapy, but eight to twelve extra would quit by using electronic cigarettes containing nicotine. This means an additional two to six people in 100 could potentially quit smoking with nicotine containing electronic cigarettes.

The Australian Government and health organisations have discouraged vaping because of insufficient proof it is an effective quitting aid. This review confirms that there is now strong scientific evidence that vaping nicotine is more effective than the next most popular quitting aid.

These organisations have included the NHMRC, the ANU report, Commonwealth Health Department, Cancer Council, TSANZ Position Statement 2020, Australian Drug Foundation 2022, Heart Foundation and Quit, Lung Foundation Australia and NSW Health

Leading tobacco researcher and Professor from the School of Psychological Sciences at Melbourne University, Ron Borland said

We now have high level research from randomised controlled trials that vaping nicotine is an effective quitting aid, indeed better than aids that are currently being subsidised and encouraged

He went on to say, “This evidence is also supported by other types of research, such as observational studies, population studies and the experiences in countries where vaping is readily available and smoking rates are declining at increasing rates”.

Emeritus Professor Wayne Hall from the National Centre for Youth Substance Use Research at the University of Queensland said

Vaping is a proven and effective quitting aid which should be widely available to Australian smokers

A comprehensive review commissioned by the government of England last month found that vaping was not risk-free but that “vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking” and is likely to be around 95% less harmful.

The TGA admitted last week that the current Australian prescription-only regulations for vaping nicotine are not working.  The flawed regulations have made it harder for adult smokers to legally access vaping products, leading to a rampant black market selling dodgy, unregulated products to kids.

It is time for Australia to follow the scientific evidence and make vaping available for adult smokers from licensed retail outlets, as it is in all other western democracies.


Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 17 November 2022

Expert reaction to Cochrane review on electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation. Science Media Centre UK. 17 November 2022

Press release from Australian experts. 17 November 2022

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