E-Cigarettes Versus Nicotine Patches: Study Compares Efficacy [Video]

 E-cigarettes more or less effective than nicotine patches in study

A debate has recently been sparked over whether electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are as safe as its creators would have you believe. Although these allegations are under much scrutiny, a new study has aimed to investigate the efficacy of e-cigarettes when compared to a veteran smoking cessation product, the nicotine patch. So, the e-cigarette versus the nicotine patch; who will win?

The Emergence of the E-Cigarette

E-cigarettes were initially launched in 2004, in the form of a diverse selection of battery-powered devices that vaporized nicotine, ready for inhalation. Millions of people globally have flocked to pharmacies and stores to procure the cessation product, which was advertised as being a safe way to enjoy a “nicotine high” without being exposed to the carcinogenic effects of traditional cigarettes.

One of the key advantages to these novel devices lies in their ability to simulate the natural feel of smoking. When a smoker takes the bold decision to wean themselves off of harmful cigarettes, they often need to find an activity to occupy their hands and minds, even when using nicotine patches. The e-cigarette overcomes this problem by designing the device to function much in the same way as a normal cigarette.

The anatomy of electronic cigarettes
The anatomy of an electronic cigarette, comprising the battery, cartridge and microprocessor (Source: Samhsa Verispan)

Others have voiced their concerns over the potential for e-cigarettes to cause nicotine addiction; the cartridges are often sold in different flavors, including mint and chocolate, which seems to partially support this argument. Proponents of the devices, however, maintain they are one of the most important tools used by smokers who are attempting to gradually, and safely, decrease their nicotine intake.

The Study

The latest study, published in the Lancet medical journal, has been the very first to draw a direct comparison between nicotine-impregnated patches and e-cigarettes. During the trial, the researchers used different sample groups (comprising a total of 657 smokers) to compare how effective the two types of nicotine cessation platforms were in helping smokers kick the habit.

The researchers also used placebo e-cigarettes, which contained no nicotine whatsoever, to ensure the results were entirely reliable.

Recruited subjects had all smoked ten or more cigarettes per day, for a minimum of a year, prior to joining the program. Participants were all over 18 years of age and wanted to quit smoking. People with medical conditions, and those who were already a part of a cessation program, were excluded from the study.

Three divided groups of subjects were then given either 16 mg/ml e-cigarettes, placebo e-cigarettes (no nicotine) or 21 mg/24 h nicotine patches. The different groups were afforded 13 weeks’ worth of the e-cigarettes, placebo devices or patches, depending upon which of the categories they had been assigned.

Effectiveness of Cessation Products

The authors of the study considered that e-cigarettes were more successful in helping smokers quit. According to the lead researcher, Chris Bullen, participants who had been given e-cigarettes were more likely to recommend Nicotine patches versus e-cigarettesthe cessation product to their friends and family.

In addition, there were more e-cigarette users that managed to completely stop smoking. 7.3 percent of the e-cigarette group managed to successfully quit their habit, contrasted against just 5.8 percent of subjects who used patches. Unfortunately, this data was not statistically significant and, therefore, there remains little evidence to suggest a difference in efficacy between nicotine patches and e-cigarettes.

Interestingly, e-cigarette users who had not completely quit smoking were more likely to have drastically reduced their use of traditional cigarettes, when compared to participants who were applying daily patches. The group’s findings revealed that almost 60 percent of people on e-cigarettes had halved the number of normal cigarettes they smoked, compared to just over 40 percent for the group on patches.

Safety Concerns

The popularity of these devices is now anticipated to surpass that of normal cigarettes, within the next decade. As a consequence, it would seem highly prudent to scientifically scrutinize the medical efficacy and safety of e-cigarettes.

Some studies have suggested that e-cigarettes can present a risk to the user’s health. Recently, a research study, called efficiency and safety of an electronic cigarette (ECLAT) as tobacco cigarettes substitute, explored these issues within a randomized population of smokers over a 12-month period. The results suggested that the fluid and vapor of e-cigarettes possessed potentially harmful toxins, but in concentrations that was similar to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, and were much lower than the concentration of toxins identified in standard cigarettes.

On the other hand, another recent study, (peering through the mist: what does the chemistry of contaminants in electronic cigarettes tell us about health risks?), concluded that the devices presented no perceived risk. During this study, researchers looked into data on the chemical constituents of aerosols and liquids specific to e-cigarettes. The research team concluded that there was no threat that “vaping” could expose users to harmful contaminants, at levels that could warrant any legitimate health concerns.

With an increased uptake in the proportion of American teens, even greater concern over the safety of e-cigarettes has been stirred. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions that the products have not yet been fully tested, and the health implications remain unknown. Some fear that teenagers may initially dabble in electronic cigarettes, only to move on to try regular, carcinogenic equivalents.

The Future

According to Red Orbit, the president of the European Respiratory Society, Francesco Blasi, argues this latest study is a step in the right direction. However, he also appeals for further “long-term independent clinical trials and behavioral studies.”

Blasi also bases his recommendations on the limited availability of data regarding this newfound device, as well as its ever-growing popularity.

Although the research study was unable to identify a statistical difference between the efficacy of e-cigarettes and nicotine patches, it would certainly seem that the general public is more receptive to the electronic devices. And, as electronic cigarettes attract a better adoption rate amongst the smoking masses, maybe this is the way forward to help completely eradicate the toxic and costly influence of the traditional cigarette.

By: James Fenner

Original Journal Source

LV Guardian Express Link

E-cigarette Safety Journal

New York Daily News

Red Orbit Link

Los Angeles Times

7 Responses to "E-Cigarettes Versus Nicotine Patches: Study Compares Efficacy [Video]"

  1. Robert Pattinson   October 23, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Good one author. This is true that examination is currently held on e cigarette. But result is not declared yet and research not complete. So till that we have to wait to know effects of e cigarette.
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    Reply
  2. david knox   September 9, 2013 at 1:26 am

    I thought you put up a fair and unbiased review that was quite refreshing in the current flurry of reviews that are just plagiarised rubbish from propaganda fed literature..people are not stupid and can spot the lobbying battle from a mile away..although I do take usa georges view as correct ,the e-cigarette was always meant as a alternative to smoking and not as a competitor to pharmaceutical NRTS but because its a phenomenon that also works in this field and is very successful at it the big pharma companies see it as a threat to their own products.so hence the lobbying by big tobacco companies and pharmaceutical companies to squash it by paying medical councils and committees to put out negative and untrue reports about them this product is consumer led and consumer driven and they big tobacco and others just don’t like the fact that control of a substantial gravy train like smoking has been taken away from them the truth of the matter is if the people in power somehow manage to ban the pve (personal vaping equipment) its proper name or turn it in to a medicinal product and hence stifling the innovation of pve’s they would create the biggest black market the world has ever seen and that’s a very scary thought.as they stand in the uk they are already regulated under several consumer licenses and this should really be enough..make no mistake these products have the ability to save millions of lives around the world and are doing this as I speak I myself am 63 years of age and enjoyed smoking for 50 years and yes the damage is almost certainly done but since I tried a pve or e-cig as you call them I have never touched a real cigarette since. its three months now and counting I feel better I sleep better I no longer smell of tobacco my car my house my breathing is cleaner..no wheezing..no carbon monoxide levels in my blood battling with the oxygen levels..hell even my golf handicap came down to twelve..the difference to my quality of life is amazing and this after three short months I wont pack vaping in because I truly enjoy it and also no second hand smoke affecting other people..now seriously I ask you whats not to like? what I will confirm is you wrote a honest unbiased review as you saw it and your credibility as a journalist will not suffer because of it.. unlike the daft and stupid propaganda reports put out by other idiotic journalists out there ..the truth will out it always does..well done for a good review I applaud you

    Reply
  3. bduaresared   September 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    There are upwards of a hundred different types of ecigs available, and while the news lately has been full of the smallest, weakest and cheapest type there has been no news on the much more powerful and effective ecig hardware that has now become the “norm” among ecig vapers, which look nothing at all like a standard “analog” cigarette. So far the news has concentrated on the almost useless variety common in gas stations which are not very effective at all. A small bit of research, such as a visit to the ecig forum, will lead you beyond the gas station varieties to the types which actually do work quite well for smoking cessation, or Advanced Personal Vapers (APV). I went through the experience myself, and have been happily smoke-free for over a month, as have other members of my family.

    Reply
  4. S   September 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks for the informative article. It was also nice to see a picture of what the cigs look like from the inside. I’m interested in the carcinogenic effects of the e-cigarette vapors as well, and it was nice to see that addressed…especially since I’ve heard some bad things about propylene glycol, and try to avoid it even in body care products. Thanks!

    Reply
    • James Fenner   September 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      No problem S. Thanks for commenting! There’s still much more research that needs to be performed into the area, but so far it certainly looks like e-cigarettes could be a viable alternative to some of the regular cessation products. I used to work in a pharmacy, where we sold e-cigarettes, patches, gum and sublingual tablets. Although I realize this is anecdotal, many of our customers managed to use these e-cigarette devices to stop altogether and found them to be more effective than traditional approaches. Nonetheless, we always need to be cautious about new products to ensure their safety, and I applaud the FDA’s reserved approach.

      Reply
  5. USAGeorge (@USAGeorge)   September 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    You have it all wrong…E cigarettes are not for and never were sold or advertised as a cigarette cessation device. It was and is a smoking alternative,the only claim is that it is a harm reduction alternative compared to cigarettes. Obviously the author of this article hasn’t a clue and is research impaired.

    Reply
    • James Fenner   September 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      Hey USAGeorge. E-cigarettes are currently being used by many people as a smoking cessation device to wean them off cigarettes. Although not strictly advertised as such, many healthcare practitioners are using e-cigarettes alongside traditional methods (patches, gum etc) to help smokers kick the habit. The British Medical Association states that it may serve as a cessation device, and a recent review of the products indicate that they might be even more effective than the previous pharmacotherapy treatments. Suffice to say, the evidence that they are an effective form of cessation remains questionable. This is part of what my article is discussing, whether e-cigarettes can be used as a replacement to traditional methods. Thanks for commenting!

      Reply

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