New Study Out Of Yale University Shows E-Cigarettes Can Help Improve Smoking Cessation Programs

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Team of researchers is one of the first to take a look at vaping when incorporated into existent quitting plans

Vaping continues to be a many-faceted, hot-button issue among public health experts and officials. Some are still concerned with whether or not they are actually safer than cigarettes, while others are focused on how big of an impact they make on the youth. An issue that has received a lot less attention, but is ultimately fundamental in the fight for vaping rights, is if they can be readily incorporated into smoking cessation programs. Both sides of the vaping debate often reference what would happen if they were folded into programs that we already have, with the pro-vaping side saying it’ll be a valuable supplement, and the anti-vapers saying that it’ll only displace the harm, or even worse, entice smokers back into smoking.

That’s why it was great to see a study whose purpose was primarily teasing out if e-cigarettes are actually helpful in these contexts, and if so, how much so. The researchers from Yale University sought out the answer to this overlooked question and found that, indeed, vaping can easily be incorporated into smoking cessation programs. What’s more is they also saw a noticeable increase in smoking cessation success for those who kept vaping throughout the testing.

Groundbreaking New Study

The Yale study was conducted by a team of doctors and researchers from Yale’s School of Public Health. Dr. Stephen Baldassarri, who has spent most of his career working on safer alternatives to tobacco, was lead on this study. In line with his shift toward vaping research, such as a collaboration with the Psychiatric department on a study of beta-2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, Dr. Baldassarri has recently spoken out in favor of vaping as a valuable harm reduction tool. The study published earlier this week was focused on the incorporation of vaping into smoking cessation programs, hoping to discern which methods had the most favorable outcomes. In this way, the study was groundbreaking, as no studies conducted at such well-respected institutions have yet to study what happens when you add e-cigarettes to standard eight-week smoking cessation programs.

Their research had them find a group of 40 smokers who were currently looking to quit. They took the group and split them into a couple of sub-groups, including those who would get non-nicotine e-cigarettes vs. those who would receive nicotine-containing e-cigarettes. All of the participants were placed in a standard smoking cessation program, complete with patches and psychological support. The researchers then added e-cigarettes to the program and started tracking the participant’s progress. This program lasted for eight weeks, after which the subjects were asked to keep track of their e-cigarette usage for discussion during a check-up after a full 24 weeks had passed. What was found was that two times as many low nicotine vapers had successfully quit compared with subjects who had the nicotine-free devices. They even noted that half of the successful participants had chosen to keep using e-cigarettes after the study was complete.

Possible reasons for the results were discussed in the report, and it was agreed that the psychological cues that vaping possesses foster a greater rate of success. Recently the British Psychological Society came to the same conclusion in their updated guidelines for dealing with vaping. They said that the visual cues such as producing a cloud were actively helping smokers feel more satisfied with their switch from cigarettes. These signals are often missing from traditional nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches and gum. What’s important is how when traditional NRTs are supported with the use of low-to-no nicotine containing e-liquids, they can become much more likely to succeed, as found in the Yale study. Results like this support the idea that nicotine is not the be-all end-all of smoking addiction, but rather the feel of smoking is something that is also strongly habitual.

Implications

Peer-reviewed research regarding vaping is growing every month. From the early days of asking if vaping is actually less dangerous, to the concerns over youth adoption, vaping research is only starting to become as well-rounded as many other topics. With a consensus growing over the Public Health England claims that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, researchers have begun to turn their attention to questions that have yet to be studied. Not to mention that with new research coming from such well-respected universities like Yale, the case for vaping has never been stronger. What the Yale researchers found has only backed up what we are already learning about vaping compared with other NRTs. A recent University of Louisville study that found vaping is at least as successful, if not more successful than patches, gum, and even prescription medication.

But the biggest takeaway is exactly what the researchers set out to learn in the first place, that vaping is entirely compatible with smoking cessation programs already being used by health care officials. Dr. Baldassarri and his team made a point to note that they haven’t learned the whole picture, and so this question must be studied further. But they still felt that vaping can undoubtedly be a valuable addition to smoking cessation plans. With any luck, more researchers will pick up where the Yale team left off and prove once and for all that vaping is one of the best tobacco control tools we have at our disposal.

Do you think studies like this are improving the case for vaping among the general public? Was vaping integral to get you or someone you know off cigarettes? What was the hardest part of finally quitting smoking for good? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Jimmy, lover, blogger, vaper and ex-smoker. I’ve been blogging about and supporting Vaping since 2009. They changed my life and I think history will show them as one of the most significant public health invention of the 21st century.

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