E-Cigarettes Not Associated With More Smokers Quitting, Reduced Consumption

Bottom Line: The use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) by smokers is not associated with greater rates of quitting cigarettes or reduced cigarette consumption after one year.

Author: Rachel A. Grana, Ph.D., M.P.H., and colleagues from the University California, San Francisco.

Background: E-cigarettes are promoted as smoking cessation tools, but studies of their effectiveness have been unconvincing.

How the Study Was Conducted: The authors analyzed self-reported data from 949 smokers (88 of the smokers used e-cigarettes at baseline) to determine if e-cigarettes were associated with more successful quitting or reduced cigarette consumption.

Results: More women, younger adults and people with less education used e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use at baseline was not associated with quitting one year later or with a change in cigarette consumption. The authors acknowledge the low numbers of e-cigarette users in the study may have limited their ability to detect an association between e-cigarettes use and quitting.

Discussion: “Nonetheless, our data add to the current evidence that e-cigarettes may not increase rates of smoking cessation. Regulations should prohibit advertising claiming or suggesting that e-cigarettes are effective smoking cessation devices until claims are supported by scientific evidence.”

In a related editor’s note, Mitchell H. Katz, M.D., a deputy editor of JAMA Internal Medicine, writes: “Unfortunately, the evidence on whether e-cigarettes help smokers to quit is contradictory and inconclusive. Grana and colleagues increase the weight of evidence indicating that e-cigarettes are not associated with higher rates of smoking cessation.”

(JAMA Intern Med. Published online March 24, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.187.