British study posits e-cigs as another way to stub out
E-CIGARETTES may have helped some 18,000 smokers in England kick the tobacco habit last year, according to research released recently.
The survey-based study was not a clinical trial, which means the link between the use of nicotine delivery devices and the number of people who quit smoking is not iron clad.
Indeed, other research has challenged the idea that e-cigarettes are an effective substitute for tobacco.
But a team of scientists led by Emma Beard of University College London, along with experts not involved in the study, said the new evidence that "vaping" can help smokers stop was compelling.
"Successful quit attempts increased over the period of time that electronic cigarettes became popular," commented Ann McNeill, an expert on tobacco addiction at King's College London who did not take part in the research.
"In my view, smokers struggling to stop should try all possible methods, including e-cigarettes."
The study pointed out that funding for other public programmes to help people curb or quit smoking had been cut back at the same time, increasing the likelihood that e-cigarettes played a positive role.
One in five adults in Britain smoke, and tobacco - which kills 100,000 people there each year - is the top preventable cause of cancer.
Britain's public health service offers tobacco users several pathways for quitting, including medication and counselling.
As of today, e-cigarettes - used by 2.8 million British residents - are not on the menu.
The study suggests that perhaps they should be.
"Although these numbers are relatively small, they are clinically significant because of the huge health gains from stopping smoking," team leader Beard and colleagues reported in The BMJ medical journal.
Another report on e-cigarettes in Britain, released at the same time, concluded the devices may help smokers quit.
The Cochrane Review - updated from 2014 - found there were no serious side effects associated with e-cigarette use.