Cochrane’s members are based in more than 130 countries, a truly worldwide effort to examine the truth about vaping. Its findings are trustworthy because “We do not accept commercial or conflicted funding. This is vital for us to generate authoritative and reliable information, working freely, unconstrained by commercial and financial interests.”
It believes that while everyone knows that stopping smoking lowers the risk of lung cancer and tobacco-related diseases but understands “that many people find it difficult to quit. We wanted to find out if using e-cigarettes could help people to stop smoking, and if people using them for this purpose experienced any unwanted effects.”
Cochrane seeks to provide findings to inform evidence-based decision-making by policymakers around the globe.
The latest work looked for studies investigating the use of vaping to help smokers stop smoking. In particular, they were hunting for randomised controlled trials, the gold standard of investigative scientific research.
They found 50 studies covering 12,430 smokers. The work they looked at compared e‑cigarettes with nicotine replacement therapy, drugs for cessation, behavioural support, and people going “cold turkey”. Studies from America and the United Kingdom dominated the work.
- More people probably stop smoking for at least six months using nicotine e-cigarettes than using nicotine replacement therapy
- Nicotine e-cigarettes may help more people to stop smoking than no support or behavioural support only
- For every 100 people using nicotine e-cigarettes to stop smoking, 10 might successfully stop, compared with only six of 100 people using nicotine-replacement therapy or nicotine-free e-cigarettes, or four of 100 people having no support or behavioural support only
Cochrane’s experts stated that the results lead them to be “moderately confident” that nicotine-containing vape products actually help more people to stop smoking than any of the alternative approaches. This is a good level of confidence in such a risk-averse area.
The team stated: “Nicotine e-cigarettes probably do help people to stop smoking for at least six months. They probably work better than nicotine replacement therapy and nicotine‑free e-cigarettes. They may work better than no support, or behavioural support alone, and they may not be associated with serious unwanted effects.”
They noted that the findings from the non-randomised studies they looked at produced similar findings to the randomised controlled trials, which gives further confidence to the findings and ought to encourage more countries to adopt pragmatic rather than restrictive policies.