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Does Vaping Help People Quit Smoking? UCL Says Yes

By Matt McConnell

Thursday October 6, 2016
can you quit smoking with electronic cigarettes

Does vaping help people quit smoking? Another in-depth electronic cigarette study carried out by a major, credible institution has found that vaping helps people quit smoking. Just to be very clear, we at ECCR are not making this claim. But we are reporting on the empirically valid findings of UCL, the University College of London. Please bear in mind as you read this article that this is our coverage of a report based on the findings of a study carried out by a research team in England.

In the US, there is no scientific consensus that definitively answers the question of ‘does vaping help people quit smoking?’. In fact, rather than consensus, the US scientific community is being pulled multiple directions. Attitudes towards vaping remain very contentions. Obviously, we at ECCR are advocates for smokers having the option of an alternative nicotine delivery product.

What we absolutely and unabashedly advocate is that it is our hope that smoking will soon be a terrible footnote in the history books and nothing more. We encourage all smokers to quit. When you look at the quit smoking timeline we published on our site, you will see that the results of quitting are not one iota shy of amazing. When you quit, you may experience your body’s amazing recuperative powers just waiting to be unleashed once the presence of the damaging toxins in combusted cigarette smoke are purged from your system. Quitting smoking can add years to your life and vastly amplify your quality of life.

Does Vaping Help People Quit Smoking?


As we were alluding to above, if ten US based health professionals were asked the question ‘is vaping bad for you’ you will probably get 10 different answers. The FDA has come down hard on vapor products, in fact treating them with more concern that they treat cigarettes which we fundamentally know are terrible. There are a variety of special interests involved in their own studies and the results of studies in the US always seem to be contested.

The lack of widespread transparent, valid study in the US is why many concerned citizens are also considering overseas research carried out by a variety of international public health agencies. Public Health England carried out the largest scale analytical study completed to date. PHE completed a 111 page report concluding that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. The Royal College Of Physicians concurred at the conclusion of their own analysis.

The study that just came out was completed by the University College Of London, UCL. The study showed that vaping is effective at helping people quit. As a matter of fact, some argue that using an electronic cigarette showed a better result than other methods. That said, this is kind of a good news bad news story. First, the good news.

University College London Finds Vaping Helps People Quit

does vaping help people quit smoking

A research team at the University College Of London analyzed the latest cigarette smoking data gathered from the annual Smoking Toolkit study in England. There is a specific subset of data that the researchers looked closely at. Part of the effort to end smoking in England involves a program where smokers actually set a date to quit with a public service agency called Stop Smoking Services. Stop Smoking Services offers one to one or group support if people should choose to take advantage.

Stop Smoking Services in England helps people formulate a plan and a date to quit. This site does NOT overtly recommend vaping. In fact, they promote cold turkey and that is excellent. If someone can quit cold turkey that is always the best option. But that is easier said than done of course. Stop Smoking Services lists a number of alternative therapies from the gamut of nicotine replacement, to prescription drugs to acupuncture and yes, electronic cigarettes.

The website has an extensive FAQ section where quotes UK government principal advisor Dame Sally Davies stating, “”I believe that electronic cigarettes have the potential to help smokers quit smoking.”

18,000 In The Uk Quit Smoking With Vapor

The research team found that 2.8 million people in the UK use electronic cigarettes and they are now the number one “smoking cessation aid” in the UK. It is estimated that ecigs helped 18,000 people in England quit smoking last year. In fact, smoking in England is at a record low. So according to UCL if you ask does vaping help smokers quit the answer is yes.

The director of Cancer Research UK said, “E-cigarettes can play a role in helping people quit and the evidence so far shows e-cigarettes are much safer than tobacco. This study shows the positive impact they’ve had on helping people give up the deadly addiction. We’ll continue to fund research into e-cigarettes to build our understanding, and encourage people to combine the most popular method with the most effective – Stop Smoking Services. But this study reassures us of the promise these products have.”

The Bad News Out Of UCL Study

The bad news out of this study is that despite the success that smokers are having quitting with ecigs, there is no evidence showing that vaping is prompting people to quit. Researchers are not seeing the public recognize vaping as an option that may help them and inspire them to make an effort to get off of cigarettes. Why is that?

This can probably be traced to the public perception of vaping. There are a lot of special interests that regard vaping as a threat. As a result they are systematically smearing vaping. For example, public polling in both the US and England shows that when it comes to vaping vs smoking, many people regard them as equally dangerous. More alarming, the number of people who believe that vaping is as bad as smoking is increasing. The media focus on negative vaping stories is perhaps playing a role.

The bad news is that smokers who have exhausted other means in an attempt to quit smoking may be adversely influenced by these perceptions. Smokers may give up on quitting rather than try another option and that is a serious concern.

Cochrane Review Says Ecigs Help People Quit

Also Notes Negligible Vaping Side Effects

smoking and electronic cigarettes

There are a lot of pro-vaping studies that are criticized. Pro-vaping studies are seldom covered by the media. For example, the vaping advocacy group CASAA conducted a survey that shows of 20,000 vapers surveyed, 90% had used electronic cigarettes to quit smoking. Because an advocacy group conducted the survey it was not reported nor was it considered when the FDA was creating regulations for ecigs.

Studies from unbiased, scientifically accredited agencies and groups are much harder to ignore. The UCL study that we covered above did get mainstream media coverage. Not as much as a negative vaping story but such is the nature of the news climate in which we all find ourselves. The University College Of London study follows right on the heels of another accredited study from Cochrane Review. The Cochrane Review found that ecigs are a benefit to reducing tobacco harm and, in fact, found that there are very few vaping side effects.

VG or PG E-Liquid

Vaping side effects might include some minor throat irritation in cases where people are sensitive to propylene glycol, or PG. PG is a common food additive also used in medications like asthma inhalers. PG is also an absorbent and can dehydrate. Many vapers address this by switching to an e-liquid with vegetable glycerin, or VG, which is a smoother vapor. Other than that, people that switch to vaping report similar benefits to people that quit cold turkey.

If you ask Cochrane Review ‘does vaping help people quit smoking’ they will also answer yes. The Cochrane Review electronic cigarette research diligently tracked 2 years of data to reach their conclusion. The Cochrane Review is an esteemed international organization dedicated to in depth research.

The news from the University College of London and Cochrane Review is part of a growing body of evidence that is difficult to ignore. But there is another side to the argument.

The Anti-Vaping Argument

To be fair, there are also studies that claim to show that vaping does not help people quit. Many regulators size upon a particular study put forward by anti-vaping stalwart Stanton Glantz. The study in question involved a survey that purported to show that electronic cigarettes are not effective to help people quit smoking. There are major problems with this study. Most notably and glaringly this survey eliminated people that had quit smoking with vaping. So basically they ruled out including any instances of people quitting with vaping. Very manipulative but Glantz did stumble on something interesting nonetheless.

What the anti-vaping study showed is that if people try vaping and continue to smoke, in other words if they are what the researchers call ‘dual users’, it can make it more difficult to quit. It does seem logical that long term dual users will be more likely remain a smoker. We don’t know if smokers chose the right nicotine level and that’s crucial data. Perhaps dual users are merely trying to cut down rather than quit. Be that as it may, many dual users did quit nonetheless. Look, there is more study needed no doubt about it.

Researchers Need To Work With Vapers

One that that is in desperate need of study, and this has totally eluded researchers so far, it which electronic cigarette devices and products are most successful. To this point in time, researches, especially in the US, have generally treated vapor products as a single entity. Here is the abject ridiculousness of that approach. There are hundreds and hundreds of different vapor products. Like every industry in the history of mankind, some products are good and some are not. It would stand to reason that the best electronic cigarettes would perform better than the bad ones. While smoking rates are declining we have a lot more work to do and until researchers truly understand vaping progress will be impeded.

Is Nicotine Bad?

is liquid nicotine in eliquid safe is vaping dangerous

We do know that there are anti-vaping groups who claim that nicotine is the health hazard represented by vaping. Then they go on to say that smokers should rely on Big Pharma NRTs, nicotine replacement therapies. So, they say nicotine is bad on one hand and then turn around and recommend that smokers use a nicotine replacement to help them quit. A mixed message with a clear bias exhibited against vapor products.

Is nicotine bad? We know this, and this is clear, nicotine is not what represents the greatest health risk associated with smoking cigarettes. No credible health professional disagrees with that and that is exhibited in practice and policy. We do know that young people are more vulnerable to stimulants like nicotine and brain development can be affected at a young age. That is why pregnant women should also avoid nicotine. Ideally, having no nicotine addiction at all is optimal.

Are There Nicotine Benefits?

Are there nicotine benefits? There may be. Vanderbilt University has completed some interesting work showing that there may be benefits of nicotine particularly in treating, and potentially protecting against, neurological disease. Nicotine is a contentious issue in that regard but ultimately it is not nicotine that represents the major health hazards associated with smoking.

We know that starting chemically treated tobacco on fire and inhaling the smoke is terrible for you. It leads to the premature deaths of millions worldwide every year. One of those chemical additives is ammonia which accelerates nicotine absorption accenting the addiction. Recent research also shows that there are probably more addictive chemicals in cigarettes than just nicotine. Here’s something to think about when it comes to the dangers of smoking. It was only a few years ago that we thought there were 400 chemicals in cigarettes smoke. Then we upgraded that to 5000. Now scientists are detecting 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes smoke. It turns out that smoking is even worse than we thought.

Just Quit Smoking

Studies show that electronic cigarettes may be able to help you with your smoking habit.

We have fairly represented a variety of arguments trying to answer the question of does vaping helps people quit smoking? The research varies as do the sources of information. There are strong opinions on both sides of the question.  There are tens of thousands of personal testimonials. Right now there is an acrimonious relationship between the vaping community and regulators. It would be a positive and logical move for US researchers to start working with the vaping community to understand it at a level that obviously completely escapes them right now. The sooner that happens the better.

Everyone involved needs to focus on the true goal and that is to reduce tobacco harm. Better yet, end it. If you are a smoker the main goal is to quit. How you choose to stop smoking is up to you but it is worth every effort to quit. Go cold turkey and fight through the nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Use NRTs, acupuncture, whatever it takes. Take advantage of support programs. Quit with a friend. Just quit smoking.

Know that it can be done. You see the smoking rates declining because people are quitting. A lot of people are quitting! You can, too.



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