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Faith Nyasuguta

In a groundbreaking European study, researchers at the University of Bern have unveiled findings that indicate smokers are more likely to quit their habit with the assistance of e-cigarettes compared to other smoking cessation methods. 

The comprehensive six-month study followed over a thousand regular smokers, primarily around the age of 40, with the majority consuming 15 or more cigarettes daily.

The research recruited 1246 participants, and they were divided into two groups. The intervention group, comprising 622 participants, was provided with e-cigarettes of their choosing in addition to other aids such as nicotine patches and counseling. 

The control group, consisting of the remaining participants, received counseling and other cessation aids, excluding e-cigarettes.

After six months, the results revealed a noteworthy difference in success rates between the two groups. A remarkable 29% of the participants in the group using e-cigarettes managed to quit smoking continuously throughout the study period, compared to only 16% of the group relying on alternative cessation products. 

The overall success rates at the end of the study were equally telling, with 60% of the participants who used e-cigarettes successfully quitting smoking, compared to 40% of those who did not incorporate e-cigarettes into their cessation strategies.

Dr. Reto Auer, the lead author and a Professor of Medicine at the University of Bern, highlighted that these findings echo results from other studies, suggesting a consistent trend in favor of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool

The Swiss research team now aims to extend their investigation by tracking the study group over five years to assess both the long-term efficacy and safety of e-cigarette use for smoking cessation.

“What we also aimed at is really to look very carefully at the safety,” says Auer. “Also, the study is ongoing. We will follow participants up on 12, 24, months, but also at five years. That means 60 months to continue to see how over time, participants use these products and about long term health.”

While the study indicates promising results for smokers attempting to quit, it also raises concerns about the potential for continued nicotine addiction among those who successfully quit through vaping. 

The researchers recognize the importance of addressing these concerns and intend to provide ongoing insights into the evolving landscape of smoking cessation strategies.

The dilemma of attracting youth to nicotine addiction through flavored e-cigarettes has been a growing concern globally. Dr. Sarah Jackson, a principal investigator at the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group at University College London, believes that this is a delicate balancing act faced by many countries.


“It’s a really delicate balancing act because what we want to do is try and make sure that these products are as attractive and appealing as they can be to people who smoke, to encourage them to switch to a much less harmful product,” she says.

“But in doing so, we don’t want to make them too attractive to young people in particular who have never smoked. So it’s a careful balancing act that requires trade-offs. But I think it’s essential that we don’t make these effective smoking cessation aids less attractive to people who smoke by removing the flavors.”

Auer acknowledges this challenge, stating, “It’s the central conundrum we’ll always have with e-cigarettes: on one side helping smokers quit. And on the other side, avoiding that adolescents become addicted to nicotine.”

The ongoing research endeavors to provide a comprehensive understanding of the long-term effects of e-cigarette use, addressing both efficacy and safety concerns. As the study unfolds over the next five years, it is poised to contribute significantly to the discourse on smoking cessation strategies and their impact on public health.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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