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E-cigs backed by major review

Wednesday December 17th, 2014

A large, reliable review of the evidence on electronic cigarettes has found that the devices can help smokers quit or cut down.

The review of two randomised trials of 662 smokers and 11 observational studies also found that e-cigarettes containing nicotine were more effective than those which do not.

But this must be confirmed in future studies, say Professor Peter Hajek and colleagues from Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, UK.

They point out in their Cochrane review that e-cigarettes have been available for many years, but have risen in popularity recently. They mimic the real experience of cigarette smoking without exposing the smoker or those around them to conventional smoke.

Analysis suggests that nicotine containing e-cigarettes are beneficial, with about 9% of users having quit after a year. The rate for nicotine-free devices was 4%. Among the smokers who did not quit, 36% smoked half as many conventional cigarettes compared with 28% not using e-cigarettes.

The devices were not linked to any adverse effects, says Professor Hajek. He states: "Although our confidence in the effects of electronic cigarettes as smoking cessation interventions is limited because of the small number of trials, the results are encouraging. Several ongoing studies will help to answer the question more fully."

Co-author Jamie Hartmann-Boyce added that e-cigarettes were at least not harmful. She stated that they are not linked to an increased health risk compared with normal cigarettes, and did not make participants less likely to quit.

Editor of the Cochrane library, Dr David Tovey, calls for further studies on the long-term safety of e-cigarettes.

McRobbie, H. et al. Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation and reduction. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 17 December 2014 doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010216.pub2.

Tags: Cancer | Drug & Alcohol Abuse | Pharmaceuticals | UK News | World Health

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