Can vaping assist you in quitting smoking?
Recently, it seems like everyone I pass is vaping, whether they are walking past, standing outside a shop, or pulling up in the vehicle next to me at a stoplight. It’s hardly unexpected that e-cigarette usage, sometimes known as vaping, has exploded in recent years. In the United States, around 6% of individuals have reported using a vaping device. That is almost 15 million individuals, which is more than twice the amount from only three years ago. Regular cigarettes, of course, are well-known for causing cancer as well as a slew of other health issues.
While vaping is believed to be less dangerous than smoking tobacco, it is not without its risks. We are aware of some of its dangers, but not all of them. We also know that vaping is becoming more popular among teenagers and young adults, which makes the recent FDA news permitting the sale of three additional vaping devices all the more shocking.
The Food and Drug Administration made an unexpected statement.
The FDA said that it has granted permission to the R. J. Reynolds Vapor Company to advertise and sell its Vuse Solo device, which comes with tobacco-flavored vaping liquid, to adults.
A large new research presents the greatest evidence yet that vaping may assist smokers in quitting cigarettes, with e-cigarettes showing to be almost twice as efficient as nicotine gums and patches.
The findings of the British study, which were published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, could have an impact on what doctors tell their patients and how the debate is framed in the United States, where the Food and Drug Administration is under pressure to tighten regulations on the burgeoning vaping industry in the wake of a spike in teenage vaping.
“We know that patients are inquiring about e-cigarettes, and many clinicians aren’t sure what to answer,” said Dr. Nancy Rigotti, a tobacco therapy expert at Harvard Medical School who was not involved in the research. “I believe they now have more evidence to support the use of e-cigarettes.
Nonetheless, Rigotti and other specialists expressed concern that no vaping products have been licensed in the United States to assist smokers in quitting.
Smoking is the most avoidable cause of mortality in the world, accounting for over 6 million deaths every year. Even with decades-old nicotine aids and newer prescription medications, quitting is notoriously tough. According to federal statistics, more than 55 percent of smokers in the United States attempt to stop every year, with just around 7 percent succeeding.
These battery-operated devices, which have been marketed in the United States since early 2007 and have evolved into a $6.6 billion-per-year business, heat a flavored nicotine solution into an inhalable vapor that is then exhaled.
Despite the fact that it does not contain the majority of the cancer-causing consequences of tobacco combustion, most experts believe that vapor is less dangerous than cigarette smoke. Although some of the compounds in the vapor are harmful, there has been little investigation into their long-term consequences.
At the same time, there has been a slew of contradicting research on whether or not electronic cigarettes truly help smokers quit. An important group of US specialists reached the conclusion last year that there was only “little evidence” of their efficacy.
According to the findings of the current study, over 900 middle-aged smokers were tracked down and randomly allocated to receive either e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement treatments such as patches, gums, and lozenges. After a year, 18 percent of e-cigarette users had quit smoking, compared to 9.9 percent of those who used other products.
E-cigarettes, according to study co-author and addiction specialist Peter Hajek, can help smokers avoid heart disease, cancer, and lung disease. “Anything that can help smokers avoid heart disease, cancer, and lung disease is a good thing,” said Hajek, who is also an addiction specialist at Queen Mary University of London.
The research was more thorough than earlier studies, which mostly polled smokers about their e-cigarette usage. Participants in this trial were subjected to chemical breath testing as part of the procedure.
Smokers in the e-cigarette group got a $26 starting kit, while those in the nicotine-replacement group received a three-month supply of the product of their choosing, which cost around $159. Participants were responsible for purchasing any additional materials.
“If you have a strategy of assisting patients with smoking cessation that is both more successful and less expensive, that should be of tremendous interest to anybody delivering health services,” said Kenneth Warner, a retired University of Michigan public health professor who was not involved in the research.
A number of variables might have contributed to the positive outcome: It is presumed that all of the participants were recruited from a government smoking-cessation program and were encouraged to stop smoking. As part of the program, they also got four weeks of anti-smoking therapy.
New medications such as Pfizer’s Chantix, which has demonstrated greater rates of effectiveness than previous nicotine-based therapies, were not tested by the researchers.
The research was made possible by funding from the British government, which has embraced e-cigarettes as a potential weapon to eradicate smoking via the provision of state-run health care. Some of the writers have been compensated as advisors by anti-smoking product manufacturers.
The products have received less support from US health authorities, in part because the long-term consequences of the treatments are uncertain.
“We need further research concerning their safety profile, and I don’t believe anybody should change their practice based on one study,” said Belinda Borrelli, a psychologist at Boston University who specializes in smoking cessation.
In 2014, the American Heart Association endorsed e-cigarettes as a last alternative to assist smokers in quitting after they had exhausted all other options, including counseling and FDA-approved medications. Last year, the American Cancer Society adopted a same stance.
According to an editorial that accompanied the research and was co-written by Borrelli, electronic cigarettes should only be used after smokers have attempted and failed to stop using FDA-approved treatments. In addition, clinicians should have a specific schedule in mind for discontinuing e-cigarette use.
It was reported by Borrelli that 80 percent of the e-cigarette users in the survey were still using the devices after a year. Nine percent of the individuals in the other group were still using nicotine replacement products like as gum and patches.
No vaping firm has publicly said that they intend to apply for FDA clearance of their products as a quit-smoking assistance. To get such an endorsement, large-scale research that may take years and cost millions of dollars would be required.
The Food and Drug Administration has maintained a mostly hands-off attitude to e-cigarettes. It has not conducted a scientific study of any of the e-cigarettes already on the market and has delayed the implementation of several important rules until 2022. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said that he does not want to over-regulate a growing business that has the potential to offer a safer alternative for adult smokers to tobacco products.
The delay has drawn widespread criticism in the wake of a boom in adolescent vaping, fueled mostly by devices like the Juul, which looks like a flash drive. According to a government poll, one in every five high school kids reported using a vape pen last year, despite the fact that federal law bars sales to individuals under the age of 18. It found that adolescent drug usage increased by 78 percent between 2017 and 2018.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ Matthew Myers pointed out that the British research made use of so-called tank-based e-cigarettes, which enable users to personalize their tastes and nicotine concentrations. Those devices have been mostly replaced in the United States by Juul and similar devices that use prefilled nicotine cartridges, sometimes known as pods. According to him, any advantage derived from e-cigarettes is dependent on the specific product and how it is used.
According to Myers, “it is a basic fallacy to believe that all e-cigarettes are the same.” “Moreover, in the lack of FDA oversight, a customer has no means of knowing whether the substance they are consuming has the potential to benefit them or not.”
Myers’ group is one of many anti-smoking groups that have filed a lawsuit against the FDA, urging the agency to begin investigating e-cigarettes quickly.
Ian Armitage was doubtful about the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a method of quitting smoking. He said that he had tried vaping some years ago but had given up after suffering twitching and shaking from nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
“I tried it for a month and couldn’t get into it,” said Armitage, an audio-visual technician in Washington. “I still had a want for a smoke thereafter.”
In addition, Armitage, who has been a smoker for 15 years, said he tried nicotine patches, but found them to be irritating to his skin.