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Smokers Relying on E-Cigarettes to Quit: Survey

  • Written by: Irvin Jackson
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The findings of new research highlight a growing trend among smokers, indicating that electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, have become the go-to device for individuals who want to quit smoking, despite concerns about whether they may be linked to health side effects and questions about whether they actually help people stop smoking traditional cigarettes. 

The study involved a survey by the Kantar Media research firm (registration required), which found that 57% of smokers who use a smoking cessation device choose electronic cigarettes, compared to 39% who choose a drug and 30% who choose nicotine gums and patches. Many choose more than one smoking cessation device and the study did not say what rate of success they experienced.

At least six million people in the U.S. smoke electronic cigarettes, according to the survey. The industry is expected to reach $1.5 billion in sales this year, as consumers advertising for electronic cigarettes continues to grow, reaching $79 million in 2013.

While at least one study, published in the journal Addiction, found that those who smoke electronic cigarettes are 60% more likely to succeed at quitting than those who use a nicotine patch or nicotine gum, many experts are not convinced they help people quit smoking, and neither is the FDA.

In September 2010, the FDA issued warning letters to several e-cig manufacturers. The letters declared that claiming electronic cigarettes helped people quit smoking was illegal without FDA approval first. The agency pointed out that the companies had conducted no clinical trials and had no scientific evidence to support their claims at the time. Before they can call them smoking cessation devices, the FDA would have to evaluate them for safety and effectiveness.

The FDA also said that limited laboratory studies have raised concerns about the manufacturing process and quality control processes used in making electronic cigarettes, which the agency called “substandard or non-existent.”

Other recent studies have shown that electronic cigarettes release formaldehyde and other carcinogens.

In April, the FDA announced proposed rules to regulate electronic cigarettes. The proposed rules will restrict children under the age of 18 from being able to legally purchase the newly regulated products, a move that has been long awaited by many critics. However, despite concerns that some e-cigarette manufacturers use attractive flavors for their products to lure youths into using tobacco, the FDA indicates it has no immediate plans to restrict the use of flavors.

Under the new rules, manufacturers will also be required to register their products with the FDA, report ingredients and market the products only after receiving an FDA review. The agency also reiterated that any attempts to claim the devices can be used to quit smoking will have to undergo an FDA review first.

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