Drop in e-cigarette use despite evidence it helps smokers quit

An e-cigarette is 70% more effective in helping smokers ditch their habit than nicotine replacement therapy, new research revealsE-cigarettes are 70% more effective in helping smokers ditch their habit than nicotine replacement therapy.

This is according to a new review undertaken by Cochrane.

However, findings from charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) reveal e-cigarette uptake fell in 2020 when compared to 2019.

Data from its annual survey with Yougov found that in March 2020 there were 3.2 million e-cigarette users in Great Britain. This is down from 3.6 million in 2019.

Additionally, almost all users are smokers or ex-smokers – with low use among those who have never smoked.

Tool to manage cravings

As a result, the charity warns that ‘unfounded concerns’ regarding e-cigarettes are discouraging thousands of smokers from seeking effective help.

‘About a third of smokers have never even tried an e-cigarette and less than 20% are currently using one,’ said chief executive of ASH, Deborah Arnott.

‘If many more smokers could be encouraged to give e-cigarettes a go, the latest evidence indicates that many more might successfully quit.

‘Health professionals have an important role to play. They can give smokers the confidence to try an e-cigarette, by letting them know that they can help them manage cravings and that they are a much safer alternative than continuing to smoke.’

Valuable for tackling disease

Figures show there has been little growth in the rate at which smokers opt for e-cigarettes since 2014. For example, in 2020, 17.4% of smokers were using them. But this is almost unchanged from 2014, when 17.6% reported use.

Data also reveals that only 39% of smokers in Great Britain correctly believe vaping is less harmful than smoking in 2020.

Respiratory consultant Dr Ruth Sharrock urges smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, adding that the risks are ‘vastly reduced’.

She adds: ‘E-cigarettes have a valuable place in our armoury at tackling tobacco related disease.’

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