Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that US smoking rates have hit a record low, at 14%. E-cigarette companies and public health experts alike, have been contributing these declining smoking rates to the fact that many smokers have been switching to safer alternatives.
In line with this, research from around the globe keeps indicating that e-cigarettes are the most effective smoking cessation tools to date, and several health entities have commended the devices for the role they are having in decreasing the international smoking epidemic. However, the CDC refuses to acknowledge any of this.
CDC’s inaccurate claims on e-cigs’ for smoking cessation
Research indicates that e-cig users are more likely to try quitting cigarettes and to manage to do so successfully.
“The jury’s still out on the effectiveness of e-cigarettes for helping people quit,” said Brian King, from the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and senior author on the report detailing this decrease in US smoking rates. “Although anecdotally we know that there are many people who are quitting using e-cigarettes, the plural of anecdote is not data.”
King added that if smokers were truly quitting thanks to e-cigarettes, we would witness a sharp increase in the number of e-cigarette users, and the opposite is the case. The CDC official pointed out that his team found that in 2017, about 2.8 percent of adults used e-cigarettes, down from 3.4 percent in 2015. “We’re basically seeing a gradual decline in overall e-cigarette use among adults, which is starkly different from what we’re seeing in youth,” said King.
However, director of the Tobacco Research and Treatment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital Nancy Rigotti, pointed out that if e-cigarettes are used as intended, as a temporary aid to quit smoking, then these figures could make sense. “That’s assuming that people are switching to e-cigarettes and staying with e-cigarettes, rather than using them for a short time and then quitting nicotine altogether,” she says. “But certainly I agree you can’t ascribe this to e-cigarettes.”
Research indicates a correlation between vaping and smoking cessation
On the other hand, while the US insists on remaining sceptical about the role of e-cigarettes in smoking cessation, another recent study indicated that there is indeed a correlation between vaping and quitting smoking.
The data for this study were collected from the 2014/15 Tobacco Use Supplement-Current Population Survey (TUS-CPS) on cigarette and e-cigarette use, and individual characteristics were supplemented with information on state tobacco control policies. The study authors estimated quit attempts amongst those who had smoked a year earlier and remained abstinent for at least 3 months amongst those making a quit attempt.
The results indicated that e-cigarette users were more likely to have tried to quit smoking than non-users. Amongst those making at least one quit attempt, quit success was lower amongst never users, but higher amongst those who had used e-cigarettes at least 5 times in the last month. “Both quit attempts and quit success were linearly related to the frequency of e-cigarette use,” read the study abstract.
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