While sources differ on whether e-cigarettes are beneficial or inhibitive to tobacco cessation efforts, Jackie Hayes, MD, pulmonary and critical care physician at Brooke Army Medical Center, pointed out that lacking data don’t allow for a real conclusion.
While at the 2018 CHEST Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX, Hayes sat down with MD Magazine® to explain what data is known about e-cigarettes in relation to tobacco cessation efforts and what data needs to still be acquired.
MD Mag: What data is the available on e-cigarettes?
The current data on electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, is limited. There are several longitudinal or cohort population studies that have shown mixed results. Some have shown a benefit with some decrease in cessation, but others have not.
Another thing that some of the studies have shown there is a decrease in the number of cigarettes smoked per day with e-cigarettes. Unfortunately, not all studies have shown that outcome. Some studies have been completely negative without any benefit of the use of e-cigarettes.
What I have seen in some more recent studies is that e-cigarettes may actually hinder an individual’s ability to become abstinent form smoking over time.
MD Mag: What data is currently lacking on e-cigarettes?
Currently, we don’t have a lot of good, randomized control trials. There are a couple that have shown, again, mixed results, but I think in order to get enough data to support the use of electronic cigarettes for tobacco cessation or smoking cessation, we are going to need more randomized control trials that are well-designed and also show a benefit with a reduction in the use of tobacco cigarettes.
I think we need to recruit more individuals who are interested in tobacco cessation—to stop smoking—and we also need to have more standardized trials, a standardized device, that can be compared to other types of medications for tobacco cessation, such as nicotine replacement therapy, placebo e-cigarettes, or have even pharmacotherapies, such as varenicline or bupropion.
One thing I would like to add on that I am frequently am asked whether or not I would recommend electronic cigarettes as a tobacco cessation aid. I think, right now, my answer, for the most part, would be no.
But, I think if you do have an individual who has failed the traditional methods of tobacco cessation, using FDA -approved medications, electronic cigarettes might be an option for some of those individuals.
I do recommend they be sued with caution because the data is mixed, and we need more data before we can fully recommend electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid.
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