It is estimated that 18,000 people in England may have stopped smoking in 2015 by using e-cigarettes.
The Smoking Toolkit study made data available on the percentage of smokers who set a quit date with Stop Smoking Services, as well as the most recent information on smoking and smoking cessation in England. Using this data, researchers at the Health Behavior Research Centre at UCL found no evidence that e-cigarettes encouraged more people to try to quit. They did however notice that over this period, as more people used e-cigarettes, the number of people that successfully quit smoking increased.
E-cigarettes are the most popular smoking cessation aid in the UK, with approximately 2.8 million people using the device. The most effective way to quit smoking is however still through professional support from free local Stop Smoking Services and by using prescription medication.
Although only 450,000 people take up these services a year, compared to the 2.8 million e-cigarettes users, a smoker using a Stop Smoking Service has around three times more chance to quit than by going cold turkey on their own. Tobacco is the number one preventable cause of cancer and kills more than 100,000 people per year in the UK alone.
According to Alison Cox, director of prevention at Cancer Research UK, people need to remember that although giving up smoking can be tough, getting support from Stop Smoking Services is still the most effective way to quit.
Professor Robert West from the Health Behavior Research Centre at UCL notes that although England is often criticized for having a too positive attitude towards e-cigarettes, the new data suggest that the relatively liberal regulation of e-cigarettes may be justified.
Evidence suggests that e-cigarettes are much safer than tobacco and they can play a role in helping people quit. This research shows the positive effect they’ve had on assisting people give up the deadly addiction.
Cox adds that although funding for research into e-cigarettes will continue to build understanding, people will still be encouraged to combine the most popular method with the most effective — Stop Smoking Services. The study does however confirm the promise these products have.
Full research has been published online in BMJ.