If you’ve been searching for good advice on how to finally quit smoking, a new study from the UK could have the answers you’ve been waiting for.
Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine compared several popular methods to quit smoking, including therapy, switching to e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and gum.
In the survey, 886 British smokers who had already tried and failed to quit cigarettes were divided into two groups.
One group was given traditional methods to quit smoking - nicotine gum, lozenges, sprays, or a combination of products - to help them break their habit over three months. The other group was encouraged to try quitting by switching to e-cigarettes.
Both groups were also given behavioral counseling, and tested at the end of the study to check if they had really quit smoking.
Experts from London’s Queen Mary University found that smokers who tried e-cigarettes found them "almost twice as effective as the 'gold standard' combination of nicotine replacement products," according to lead researcher Peter Hajek.
In the traditional group, 10% of people gave up smoking by the end of the study, while 18% of people in the e-cigarette group managed to quit. E-cigarette users also reported having weaker urges to smoke and less coughing than the traditional group.
Hajek added that the study could encourage doctors who "have been reluctant to recommend their [e-cigarette] use" to change their minds.
But researchers in America have pushed back against the study, arguing that its results are not conclusive and that the potential dangers of long-term e-cigarette use are still unknown.
They also point out that most e-cigarette smokers were continuing to use e-cigarettes at the end of the study, while only a small number of traditional therapy users were continuing to use nicotine products by the same time.
So far, the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved any e-cigarette products as treatments for quitting smoking.
There are other concerns about replacing traditional cigarettes with e-cigarettes as well. For one thing, a single Juul pod - the single-serving of liquid for one of the most popular e-cigarette brands - actually contains the same amount of nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes.
New research scheduled to be presented at a conference next month also claims that using e-cigarettes is linked to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease.
Ironically, e-cigarette users are also twice as likely to also smoke cigarettes compared to people who don’t use e-cigarettes, according the new study’s author.
Despite the concerning news, e-cigarette use among high school students alone jumped 900 percent between 2011 and 2015. According the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 high school students use e-cigarettes.
The American Lung Association still encourages smokers to switch to gum, lozenges, inhalers, nasal sprays, and medicines like Varenicline or bupropion to kick their cigarette addictions, not vaping.