Background:Increasingly popular electronic cigarettes (ecigs) may be the most promising development in the effort to end cigarette smoking. However, there is sparse evidence that their use promotes cessation. Governments are seeking this information as they develop regulations regarding the manufacture, marketing and sale of this controversial product.
Aim:To determine whether use of ecigs increases the likelihood of smoking cessation.
Methods:Representative samples of adults in two U.S. metropolitan areas were surveyed by phone in 2011/2012 about their use novel tobacco products. In 2014, follow-up interviews were conducted with 695 of the 1374 baseline cigarette smokers who had agreed to be re-contacted. The follow-up interview assessed their current smoking status and their history of electronic cigarette usage. Respondents were categorized as intensive users (used ecigs daily for at least one month), intermittent users (used regularly, but not daily for more than one month), and non-users (had never used e-cigarettes or used at most once or twice).
Results: Ecig trial increased from 22% to 70% at follow-up. At follow-up, 23% percent were intensive users, 29% intermittent users, 18% had used once or twice, and 30% hadn’t tried ecigs. A multivariate logistic regression, controlling for demographics and level of tobacco dependence, indicated that those who used ecigs intensively, were 6 times as likely to quit smoking as non-users. No such relationship was seen for intermittent users. Other analyses suggested that among those still smoking at follow-up, intermittent ecig use may have reduced likelihood of future quitting.
Conclusions: Daily use of electronic cigarettes for at least one month seems a powerful aid to quitting smoking. Further investigation of intermittent patterns of use is necessary to better understand the potential for undermining motivation to give up tobacco.