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Americans are quitting smoking in higher numbers; study suggests e-cigarettes help

University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center researchers performed a population-level analysis of national surveys conducted from 2001 to 2015 and found that in the United States the smoking cessation rate increased for the first time in 15 years. The study suggests e-cigarettes helped users of the electronic devices to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

The annual rate of people who quit smoking has hovered around 4.5 percent for years but in the 2014-15 Current Population Survey-Tobacco Use Supplement (CPS-TUS) survey the smoking cessation rate increased to 5.6. The 1.1 percentage point increase is statistically significant, representing approximately 350,000 additional smokers who quit in a 12-month period.

Shu-Hong Zhu, PhD, UC San Diego professor of Family Medicine and Public Health and director of the Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, and team published their findings in the British Medical Journal. Zhu attributes the increased cessation rate, in part, to national tobacco control media campaigns that began airing in 2012 and an increase in the popularity of e-cigarettes that spiked around 2014.

“Our analysis of the population survey data indicated that smokers who also used e-cigarettes were more likely to attempt to quit smoking, and more likely to succeed,” said Zhu. “Use of e-cigarettes was associated both with a higher quit rate for individuals as well as at the population level; driving an increase in the overall number of people quitting.”

Zhu and team examined the relationship between e-cigarette use and smoking cessation using data collected by the US Census CPS-TUS, a national survey of adults 18 years or older conducted to obtain information about changes in the country’s use of tobacco products. It is based on the largest representative sample of smokers and e-cigarette users available, although it is not a randomized trial.