Quitting smoking is hard. Anyone who has attempted to quit smoking or helped a loved one quit could describe just how difficult it is. We applaud everyone who has attempted to quit, and encourage anyone who is still trying to not give up – it can take many attempts to successfully quit smoking! However, with the growing prevalence of e-cigarettes, the conversation around quitting cigarettes has changed. E-cigarette companies often market their products as a quit tool, but we can’t endorse e-cigarettes as a quit tool because of three key reasons.
E-cigarettes are not FDA-approved quit smoking devices.
FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) undergo a rigorous approval process and are subjected to animal and human clinical trials before being made available to the public. In addition, there are regulations governing their manufacturing, labeling, packaging, and warning requirements. The purpose of this process is to ensure that these products are safe and effective. This is not true for e-cigarettes and other devices that heat up liquids that include nicotine and are inhaled into the lungs. E-cigarette companies could go through the process of having their products FDA-approved as cessation devices. However, as of today, it is not evident that any of the hundreds of e-cigarette companies out there have submitted applications to do so.1 2
Studies show that using both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes during the quitting process is problematic.
Though smokers may reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke, many end up using both products at the same time and never actually quit altogether. This means that any potential health benefits are reduced and the cardiovascular risks associated with smoking stay essentially the same and continue to cause significant health problems for the individual.3 Additionally, e-cigarettes may prevent people from successfully beating their addiction to nicotine.4 5 6
There is no conclusive scientific evidence showing that e-cigarettes are a safe and effective method to reduce traditional cigarette use at the population level.
In a review of effective cessation treatments, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force determined that there is insufficient evidence to recommend the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.7 Of the research that has been conducted, there is no evidence that e-cigarette use helps adult smokers quit at any higher rate than smokers who do not use these products.5 8 Additionally, there are other health hazards of using e-cigarettes, including cardiovascular toxicity from e-liquid flavorings9 and cancer-causing toxins in e-cigarette aerosol.10 For those who want to quit, there is help available. The California Smokers’ Helpline has been helping smokers successfully quit for more than 25 years with free, personalized support available in six languages. The Helpline uses a proven method that provides proactive counselor support when clients need it the most, and research has shown that this approach doubles a person’s chance of successfully quitting. The Helpline can be reached at 1-800-NO-VAPE or www.nobutts.org. For information about the vaping illness outbreak, visit CDC.gov.