Peter Hajek, director of the health and lifestyle research unit at Queen Mary University, who was not involved in the study, said: 'It's absolutely clear that e-cigarettes help smokers replace cigarettes'. These surveys provided smoking-cessation rates, and the most recent survey, from 2014 to 2015, had information about e-cigarette usage.
According to a new study out of UC San Diego, during 2015 the annual quit rate went up to about 6% from its long-time average of 4.5%.
The report, which surveyed 161,054 people in the U.S. across nearly 15 years, also found that substantially more people in the States are using e-cigarettes, and that this was linked to a "statistically significant increase in the smoking cessation rate at the population level". A significant 38.2% of current smokers and 49.3% of recent quitters had tried e-cigarettes, and 11.5% and 19.0% respectively, were current vapers.
The study says people who tried them were more likely to quit than those who did not.
One limitation of the study is that details on how participants actually stopped smoking weren't available.
"People should be open to consider e-cigarettes as a way to help them quit, especially if they have used everything else in the past", Zhu said.
Vaping also increases a wannabe-quitter's chance of success, with eight percent successfully abstaining from cigarettes for at least three months compared to five per cent of traditional smokers, the research adds. USA health officials have continued to promote abstinence to the public rather than encourage smokers to switch to less harmful products: online fact sheets published by CDC, FDA, and the National Cancer Institute list multiple health risks associated with smokeless tobacco, but give no indication it is less harmful than cigarettes.
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Smokers who use e-cigarettes are more likely to quit using conventional cigarettes. The authors write that things like national ad campaigns against smoking and a tobacco tax probably helped, too. The 1.1 percent increase represents about 350,000 additional smokers who quit in a 12-month period.
Among these, almost half of recent quitters had tried e-cigarettes, the researchers found.
"They may do better with e-cigarettes because they may already be motivated to quit", he said.
Today's study didn't address whether e-cigs are luring people who would otherwise be nonsmokers.
Schroeder and Zhu concede that e-cigarettes are probably not completely safe, but are likely less harmful than regular cigarettes.
Regulation policies on e- cigarettes differ from country to country. "But if those don't work - try an e-cigarette".
E-cigs possess the potential to reduce a deadly habit that is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the U.S.