A study was recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine on E-Cigarettes. Currently, this is a very controversial topic and there are few studies on the lasting effects of e-cigarettes. The study is the first comparative-effectiveness trial that assessed long-term (1 year) outcomes. Here at Community Care Physicians, we believe smoking of any kind is not healthy and strongly encourage you to speak with your doctor about quitting.
What are E-Cigarettes?
E-Cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, go by many different names, such as e-cigs, e-vaporizers, e-hookahs, hookah pens, mods, and mostly commonly, vapes/vape pens. E-cigarettes are battery-operated and are used to inhale aerosol that is heated. Often, they are filled with nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. Most e-cigarettes break down into four parts, a cartridge or reservoir (which holds the e-liquid), an atomizer (the heating element), a battery (usually looks like a USB), and the mouthpiece. Not all e-cigarettes are composed of the same parts or filled with the same liquid.
E-Cigarettes as Nicotine-Replacement
It is first important to note that e-cigarettes are not approved by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) for smoking cessation. The FDA is responsible for ensuring public health by regulating foods, drugs, medical supplies, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. This includes e-cigarettes. Because e-cigarettes are still relatively new and there is not a lot of evidence of the long-term effects of e-cigarettes, it is difficult to monitor its use.
The results of the study found that after one year, the rate of abstinence from smoking tobacco was 18% in e-cigarette users and 9.9% in the nicotine replacement group. However, the 18% rate is similar to outcomes reported in other studies using FDA-approved medications for smoking cessation. Additionally, a larger percentage of those who achieved abstinence with e-cigarettes were still using the devices after one year, compared with those in the nicotine-replacement group who were still using nicotine replacement.
While e-cigarettes are likely safer than tobacco cigarettes, it remains controversial whether e-cigarettes should be used as first-line treatment to assist smoking cessation. However, it may be reasonable to consider e-cigarettes for smoking cessation if FDA-approved treatments fail. If you chose to use e-cigarettes for cessation, it is strongly encouraged you seek a healthcare professional to monitor your usage. In this study, all participants received behavioral support.
To truly get to the bottom of this controversial issue, more studies need to be conducted. As helpful as this recent study is, it does contain its limitations which may have influenced the results. Pregnant women were excluded from the study, so it is still unknown the long-term effects and safety of e-cigarettes and pregnancy. The health of children and young adults is still unknown and there is good evidence that e-cigarettes increases youth beginning to smoke tobacco cigarettes and the US Surgeon General recently declared e-cigarette use among youth an “epidemic”.
Community Care Physicians
If you are in need of a primary care doctor to help you quit smoking, our Concierge Care Coordinator would be more than happy to direct you to the best one and answer any questions you may have about our providers. Give them a call today at (518) 782-3800.
The New York State Smokers Quit Line is also another excellent resource for trying to quit smoking. Call 1-866-NY-QUITS or 1-866-697-8487 for a free service when you are ready to quit smoking.
To read more about the study done in The New England Journal of Medicine, here’s a handy news piece written on it here.