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Free E-cigs Can Reduce Smoking Rate

Free E-cigs Can Reduce Smoking Rate

New research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health shows that the free provision of electronic cigarettes can help bring down smoking rates.

In an attempt to convince legislators to offer quitters free e-cigs, researchers in Glasgow, Scotland found that giving tobacco users e-cigarettes helped them smoke fewer cigarettes and have more ‘smoke-free days’ each month.

The 90-day trial also resulted in 37% of the 72 adult smokers involved in the study abstaining from cigarettes completely.

“Our data show that it is possible to facilitate significant behavioural change on the part of smokers as a result of providing them with access to high quality e-cigarette products, at least for a short period of time,” said Professor Neil McKeganey, Director of Centre for Substance Use Research (CSUR), which conducted the study.

Smoking rates are falling in western countries, including the United States and the UK. But cigarettes continue to be the leading cause of preventable death.

When tobacco users stop smoking, the associated health risks start diminishing. The longer the period of abstinence, the better the health outcomes.

Landmark research from Public Health England (PHE) and the UK-based Royal College of Physicians shows that e-cigarettes are around 95% safer than cigarettes.

PHE recently re-stated this position, saying that e-cigarettes represent a fraction of the harm of cigarettes and arguing that smokers should be encouraged to switch to e-cigarettes.

CSUR gave each of the 72 participants a Blue PRO, a small refillable e-cigarette with a rechargeable battery.

Aged between 18 and 65, the participants were all Glasgow residents who had been smoking at least 10 cigarettes per day for at least the last year. None of the participants were regular e-cigarette users at the start of the study.

Researcher’s checked on the progress of the participants via an online survey completed on days 1 (baseline), 30, 60 and 90 of the study.

After 90 days, the researchers found:

  • 36.5% of participants abstained from smoking completely
  • 17.5% of participants smoked every day, down from 88.7% on day one
  • Participants smoked a median of five cigarettes per day, down from 15 on day one
  • Participants smoked on a median of 13 days in a month, down from 30 on day one

Participants were offered a full range of Blu e-liquid to choose from throughout the study period.  Researchers found that non-tobacco flavors were significantly more popular than the exclusive tobacco flavor.

At day 90, 75.9% of participants preferred non-tobacco flavors compared with 13.8% who went for the tobacco-flavored e-liquid.

This finding has particular significance in the United States, where several cities have already banned the sale of flavored e-liquids and US Senators have introduced a bill to ban the liquids at a federal level.

In a discussion of their findings, the researchers pointed out that the abstinence level increased from the baseline to day 30 and continued to rise throughout the three month study, suggesting that more smokers will gradually quit over a longer period.

They conclude by suggesting that “the provision of e-cigarettes to smokers for at least a period of time, without financial charge, may well be something that services should consider.”