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New Evidence Casts Doubt on E-Cigs as Quit-Smoking Devices

A recent study adds evidence to the "no" side of the debate on whether or not vaping can help people quit smoking.

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By Bryan Le

03/25/14

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A new study by the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education could provide insight into whether electronic cigarettes can actually help people quit smoking. 

Researchers found that among 949 smokers, including 88 e-cig smokers, e-cigarette use was not associated with “greater rates of quitting cigarettes or reduced cigarette consumption” over the course of a year. While contradicting manufacturer claims that electronic devices can help nicotine addicts quit, the study's authors were quick to point out that their findings are not to be taken as definitive proof, citing a small sample size and a lack of information gathered on characteristics of use such as motivation and frequency.

“Nonetheless, our data add to the current evidence that e-cigarettes may not increase rates of smoking cessation,” said co-authors Rachel Grana, Lucy Popova, and Pamela Ling in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Without FDA regulation or approval - which could be decided soon - U.S. citizens are left with unrestricted access to vaping devices. Some cities and states have taken regulation into their own hands; Los Angeles, for example, has banned public use of the devices for fear it could normalize the act of smoking. Critics have also raised concern regarding how easy it is for children and teenagers to get vapes, which often come in candy flavors.

Other studies on e-cigarettes and smoking cessation have been at best inconclusive. A New Zealand study in September stated that vapes were "modestly effective" in helping quit smoking. Another study found that middle and high school students who vaped are actually more likely to take up smoking.

But that concern could disappear as soon as the FDA puts out regulations on sales and access. Until the FDA passes judgement, the fate of the e-cigarette industry remains in the balance.

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