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E-cigarettes can help smokers quit, but there’s a catch

Frequent e-cigarette use does help smokers quit — a finding that Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers say supports the use of e-cigarettes as a cessation aid for those trying to quit cigarette smoking. But, they note, an examination of a recent national survey uncovers important clues about who’s successful at quitting and why.

The findings, published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, examined a national survey of more than 24,500 current or recent former cigarette smokers, which is the largest sample of smokers studied to date. This study, along with a July study published in the BMJ, provide some of the strongest evidence so far on the link between use of e-cigarettes and cessation, says the study’s lead author David Levy, PhD, professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi.

However, Levy notes, there are important nuances in the data that impact a person’s success in quitting cigarette smoking.

“Both cigarette quit attempts and quit success were directly related to the number of days of e-cigarette use,” Levy explains. “The odds of quit success increased by 10 percent with each additional day of e-cigarette use.”

The data also show that among those making at least one quit attempt, quit success was lower among individuals who had used e-cigarettes at some point in the past, but higher among those with at least 5 days of e-cigarettes use in the last month.