E-cigarette use is strongly associated with smoking cessation in the European Union

Tuesday, 04 February 2020 16:33


By Dr Farsalinos

A new study was published today in the journal Tobacco Control examining the association between e-cigarette use and smoking in the Eurobarometer 2017 survey. Last year, another study analyzed the 2014 Eurobarometer, finding that e-cigarette use prevents smoking cessation in Europe. But the study design and conclusion was flawed since the 2014 survey included all former smokers as one group, including the majority who had quit long before e-cigarettes were available. Thankfully, the 2017 survey included a question about time of smoking cessation, so we could analyze former smokers who had quit during the period when e-cigarettes were available.

Unsurprisingly, and in agreement with other studies, we found a strong association between current daily e-cigarette use and being a former (rather than a current) smoker. Specifically, we found that daily e-cigarette use was associated with 5-fold higher odds of having quit smoking in 2015-2017, and with 3-fold higher odds of having quit smoking in 2012-2015. Another important finding of the study was that e-cigarette use was extremely rare among former smokers who had quit before the availability of e-cigarettes, showing that e-cigarettes do not result in relapse to an inhalational habit for these former smokers.

The study provides additional evidence that smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit with other approved methods should be encouraged to switch to e-cigarettes. Unfortunately the current global environment is so intimidating that smokers are discouraged from using e-cigarettes while vapers are relapsing back to smoking due to fear about their health. This is an irony and is in complete disagreement with research on e-cigarettes safety/risk profile and efficacy as smoking substitutes. Unfortunately, emotions, dogmatism and politics are currently prevailing over scientific evidence, and this is damaging for public health. I hope the European authorities will consider the current and many other studies, and take appropriate steps to tackle the misinformation on e-cigarettes.