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Wolfson Institute of Population Health

Cochrane Review: E-cigs more effective than traditional NRT to quit smoking

The latest Cochrane Review has found “high certainty” evidence that nicotine e-cigarettes (or vapes) are more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) such as patches and chewing gums in helping people quit smoking.

Three broken cigarettes sit alongside an e-cigarette

The CRUK-funded research shows that people are more likely to stop smoking for at least six months using e-cigarettes than NRT. Evidence also suggested that nicotine e-cigarettes led to higher quit rates than e-cigarettes without nicotine. The updated Cochrane review includes 78 studies in over 22,000 participants - an addition of 22 studies since the last update in 2021. Data from the review showed that if six in 100 people quit by using NRT, eight to twelve would quit by using e-cigarettes containing nicotine. This means an additional two to six people in 100 could potentially quit smoking with nicotine containing e-cigarettes.

In 2020 22.3% of the global population used tobacco, despite it killing up to half of its users. Stopping smoking reduces the risk of lung cancer, heart attacks and many other diseases. Though most people who smoke want to quit, many find it difficult to do so permanently. Nicotine patches and gum are safe, effective and widely used methods to help individuals quit.

Professor Peter Hajek, a senior author on the review, said: “The verdict that e-cigarettes help smokers quit, and that they are more effective than nicotine replacement treatments, has been now upgraded to high certainty evidence. The finding should encourage more clinicians to use this information when helping smokers quit.” 




Hartmann-Boyce J, Lindson N, Butler AR, McRobbie H, Bullen C, Begh R, Theodoulou A, Notley C, Rigotti NA, Turner T, Fanshawe TR, Hajek P. Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2022, Issue 11, 17 November 2022.



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