New study links daily vaping to higher quit-smoking rate. But not so fast ¦

By Gil Ross — Oct 15, 2014
A new study shows an association between intense e-cigarette users (vapers) and quitting smoking. But there are several caveats that should lend perspective to this good news: quitting at one point in time only, and no cause-and-effect established.

Vaper VapingA study done by two University of Massachusetts tobacco and nicotine experts, Lois Biener PhD and J. Lee Hargraves, PhD, shows a strong association between intense use of e-cigarettes (vaping) and point-abstinence from smoking (meaning quitting cigarettes at the one-time they were surveyed). Those using e-cigs daily for at least 30 days had about double the quit-rate of those using e-cigs less frequently, or not at all.

The authors surveyed 1300+ smokers in 2011 concerning their use of novel tobacco products, including e-cigarettes (which contain no tobacco). Then, earlier this year, they did follow-up surveys among the 695 respondents who agreed to answer further questions. They divided this group into three cohorts: intense vapers who used e-cigs daily for at least 30 days (23 percent or 160); intermittent users (29 percent or 202), and non-users (48 percent, or 334).

Their main conclusions were that the intense e-cig group had (using the most appropriate statistical analysis) a two-fold higher rate of tobacco abstinence as the other two groups. The intermittent and non-users had no increased quit rate.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross, who has been intensively following the literature on harm reduction, had this comment: Given the unethical and destructive tendencies of just about all of the so-called public health authorities to distort junk science studies and even their own data (referring here to the CDC) to impede truthful communication about harm reduction, it is so tempting here to do the same. But we devotees of truthful health communication must not fall into that end justifies the means trap, and this study is a good example. The authors used a statistical sleight-of-hand I m certain not intentionally, as the Glantz-Frieden anti-e-cig camp has often done to give the impression that *point cessation at the time of the follow-up survey was equivalent to actual quitting; it s not. And **that the daily-vapers had a six-fold higher quit rate. It was in fact a doubling of the non-user quit rate. Still, the bottom line is that smokers who wish to quit have found some success, at least in the short-term, while using e-cigarettes. I do believe that e-cigs are now and will even more so be a key part of the battle against deadly, toxic, addictive cigarettes.