Can electronic cigarettes help you quit smoking?

The government doesn't seem to think so

Electronic Cigarette close up

An electronic cigarette, or ‘Ecig’ is an electrical device that simulates the act of cigarette smoking by producing an inhaled ‘vapor’ bearing the characteristics of tobacco smoke, but without the nicotine content.  Despite the fact that they have been available since 2003, and there have been lots of studies indicating that Ecigs are far more effective as an anti-smoking device (also known as a smoking cessation device), than current measures, the government still refuse to approve them as a smoking cessation device. 
There are several online resources documenting the argument for making Ecigs a smoking cessation device and most of these can be traced back to Dr Michael Siegel, a huge supporter of tobacco control.

Who is Dr Michael Siegel?
Dr Michael Siegel is a professor with 21 years of experience in tobacco control.  He founded the ‘Centre for Public Accountability in Tobacco Control’ in the US and is dedicated to ensuring the ethical and honest practice of tobacco control by anti-smoking organizations.  He has produced numerous scientific papers, interviews and blogs criticizing the current anti-smoking methods and staunchly champions Ecigs as effective smoking cessation devices. 
His views are controversial in the eyes of the law as he exposes the financial motives of the government for not legalising Ecigs, in favour of allowing the current tobacco consumption to continue.

Current anti-smoking campaigns V’s electronic cigarettes
Current anti-smoking devices include nicotine patches and web-based therapy.  However, according to scientific papers, both of these methods are almost useless. 
The study, ‘Effectiveness of web-based tailored smoking cessation advice reports (iQuit): a randomised trial.’ By Mason D, Gilbert H, Sutton S, Addiction 2012 identified:

Web-based therapy had the following success rate:
• The tailored advice group had a six-month cessation rate of 9.3%
• The non-tailored advice group had a cessation rate of 9.3%.

Nicotine replacement has the following success rate:
• Long term quit rate 8%
Therefore both ‘government-approved’ smoking cessation methods, are less than 10% successful.

The electronic cigarette contains a nicotine/propylene glycol solution and vaporizes the nicotine.  There is no tobacco, no tar and it does not contain any of the thousands of other constituents of tobacco smoke. The amount of nicotine delivered can also be controlled by the user.  Therefore according to Dr Michael Siegel, although he cannot exactly say how ‘safe’ the Ecig is:
“I can say is that it is substantially safer than the conventional cigarette. Inhaling nicotine cannot be nearly as dangerous as inhaling nicotine plus thousands of other chemicals.”
Dr Michael Siegels blog ( identifies many studies which highlight Ecigs as an effective smoking cessation device.  They include:
• The Polosa study, a clinical trial of electronic cigarettes among smokers with no motivation to quit, in which more than 50% of the subjects either quit or cut down substantially (by more than half) on the amount they smoked.
• The results of numerous surveys and focus groups as well as the abundant anecdotal evidence of the many thousands of people who have successfully quit or greatly reduced their cigarette consumption with the help of electronic cigarettes.

Indeed, you only need to research Ecigs online and you will unearth hundreds of stories of long-term smokers who have been able to quit thanks to e-cigarettes. 

So why will the government not approve e-cigs as a smoking cessation device?

Dr Michael Siegel gives clear evidence on for the reasons that the government won’t approve Ecigs.  In an article he wrote in response to a possible ban on Ecigs, he notes the relationship between the government and the manufacturers of current smoking cessation devices:
“The only real threat that electronic cigarettes pose is not to the public's health, but to the profits of the pharmaceutical companies, which manufacture competing products (nicotine replacement therapy). If lots of smokers turn to electronic cigarettes, rather than pharmaceuticals, in order to try to quit smoking, then the pharmaceutical companies stand to lose lots of money.”
He then identifies that in 2008 Frank Lautenberg,  a US Senator from New Jersey, who wants the US Food and Drug Administration to ban electronic cigarettes due to his concerns about safety,  received $128,000 towards his election campaign in donations from pharmaceutical companies.  Therefore if pharmaceutical sales were hit with a rival product (Ecigs), the money that pharmaceutical companies pass to the government would be significantly reduced.  Therefore from the government’s perspective, making Ecigs an approved smoking cessation device is not financially viable.  Dr Michael Siegel acknowledges this by saying:
“So perhaps it is not surprising that Senator Lautenberg, (US Senator) is standing up to protect the financial interests of the pharmaceutical companies over the interests of the public's health.


So, can electronic cigarettes help you quit smoking?  Let’s look at the facts. 

- Inhaling nicotine only is absolutely better than inhaling nicotine plus all of the other toxic substances found in cigarettes (tar etc.). 

- Clinical trials, studies and focus groups have all identified that Ecigs are an extremely effective smoking cessation device and even people who had no motivation to quit, did quit and others significantly reducing their smoking intake.

- Dr Micheal Siegel a passionate and knowledgeable professor who has dedicated 21 years of his life to tobacco control, furiously advocates for the government to make Ecigs a marketable smoking cessation device because they are so much more effective than the current methods.

Given all this evidence, it is safe to say that yes electronic cigarettes can help you quit smoking, it’s just a shame that the UK and US governments refuse to concede this.

This article was picked up by Yahoo News on the following link;


Written by Rob Patrick

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