Could this be the way to quit?

Could this be the way to quit?IMAGE: Getty

It’s a notoriously tough goal, giving up smoking, but a major new study has indicated that e-cigarettes might be a very helpful tool for those looking to quit.

While fans of e-cigarettes have long championed the electronic alternative to cigarettes, medical opinion has been divided on their usefulness. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that there is a benefit. 

The study of almost 900 smokers is the first to look at just how effective e-cigarettes might be for people trying to give up smoking. It found that 18 per cent of smokers who used e-cigarettes to quit were still smoke-free after a year. That was almost twice as many as those using traditional nicotine replacement treatments (9.9 per cent).

Such findings may change medical professionals’ view of the cigarette alternatives and in the UK there have already been calls for them to be available on the National Health Service (NHS).

Lead researcher on the study, Prof Peter Hajek, from Queen Mary University of London, said: "Although a large number of smokers report that they have quit smoking successfully with the help of e-cigarettes, health professionals have been reluctant to recommend their use because of the lack of clear evidence from randomised controlled trials. This is now likely to change."

However not all are convinced with The American Lung Association stating that "The US Food and Drug Administration has not found any e-cigarette to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit," and Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) instead recommending its QUIT programme. 

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