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Vaping helps smokers to quit but NRT more effective for over 45s


New research suggests that e-cigarettes are more effective than nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) at helping smokers to quit but NRT works better in older people with tobacco dependency.

The University College London survey of almost 19,000 smokers found that those using e-cigarettes as a quitting aid were almost twice as likely to have succeeded in becoming abstinent at 12 months after their quit date, compared to those who did not use this intervention. Varenicline also approached being twice as effective with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.82.

Prescribed NRT use such as gums, patches and lozenges, were also more effective than not being on these therapies but more so in people over 45 with an OR of 1.58 vs only 1.09 in the under 45s.

This study’s main aim was to understand patient characteristics such as age and socioeconomic group and what works best for them - so an additional finding that the use of self-help websites was helpful in smokers in a lower socioeconomic status but not in those from higher social grades may be important for smoking cessation service design.

This research, published in the journal Addiction, backs findings from a multi centre randomised controlled trial published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine which reported that e-cigarettes are almost twice as effective as NRT at helping smokers to quit. This trial, led by Queen Mary University of London researchers, involved almost 900 smokers who also received additional behavioural support for up to four weeks.

The findings of both these studies validate PCRS policy which supports e-cigarettes as a positive option available to support people to quit tobacco smoking.

PCRSB Executive Chair, Noel Baxter says: “Supporting people to use the smoking cessation interventions that work best for them and that they choose is vital for success in treating tobacco dependency. This study adds to others that tell us that vaping is at least as effective as the current prescribable pharmacological interventions.”

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