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Trying to quit? e-cigarettes are more than just hot air

E-cigarettes are a potential aid and they may also be able to lower the risk of in high-risk groups. The available , however, remains insufficient. This is the conclusion reached by et al. from Munich in this issue of Deutsches Arzteblatt International.

The authors performed a systematic literature search for data on e-cigarettes’ mechanism of action, their emissions, how they are seen by groups of potential users, their efficacy in smoking cessation, and their addiction potential. According to an international survey e-cigarettes were used by younger people, those with higher incomes, and heavier smokers in particular. Among e-cigarette users, 85% reported that they used them to stop smoking. According to repeat surveys in the U.K., the number of people who were aware of e-cigarettes doubled between 2010 and 2012, and the number of users increased four-fold. An online survey of e-cigarette users found that 74% of those asked had not smoked tobacco for at least several weeks since using e-cigarettes, and 70% reported reduced cigarette cravings. However, there is evidence that people who have never previously smoked also use e-cigarettes. The rates among Polish and US students, for example, were 3% and 9% respectively.

Only two controlled trials show e-cigarettes as having similar effects to nicotine replacement therapies as smoking cessation aids; these effects were almost independent of nicotine content. The authors call for more randomized trials to be conducted.


(Dtsch Arztebl Int 2014; 111: 349-55)

Deutsches Aerzteblatt International