Claim: E-cigarettes, as used, aren’t helping smokers quit, study shows

No surprise. Many e-cig users are smokers simply trying not to offend others or to comply with smoking restrictions.

In any event, there is no evidence that e-cigs cause harm. If progressives are okay with people smoking marijuana, why’s wrong with e-cigs?

The media release is below.


E-cigarettes, as used, aren’t helping smokers quit, study shows
New analysis by UCSF found ‘vapers’ are 28 percent less likely to stop smoking


Electronic cigarettes are widely promoted and used to help smokers quit traditional cigarettes, but a new analysis from UC San Francisco found that adult smokers who use e-cigarettes are actually 28 percent less likely to stop smoking cigarettes.

The study — a systematic review and meta-analysis of published data — is the largest to quantify whether e-cigarettes assist smokers in quitting cigarettes.

The findings will be published online January 14, 2016 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

“As currently being used, e-cigarettes are associated with significantly less quitting among smokers,” concluded first author Sara Kalkhoran, MD who was a clinical fellow at the UCSF School of Medicine when the research was conducted. She is now at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

“E-cigarettes should not be recommended as effective smoking cessation aids until there is evidence that, as promoted and used, they assist smoking cessation,” Kalkhoran wrote.

Electronic cigarettes, known by a variety of names including vapor pens, are battery-powered devices that heat nicotine and flavorings to deliver an aerosol inhaled by the user. While they are promoted as a way to quit traditional cigarettes, they also are promoted as a way to get nicotine in environments where traditional cigarettes are prohibited, even though more than 430 cities and several states ban their use in smoke free sites where conventional cigarettes are also prohibited.

In 2015, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded that there was insufficient evidence to recommend the devices to help adults quit smoking. No e-cigarette company has submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve e-cigarettes for smoking cession, and the FDA has not taken any action against companies that claim e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking.

In their analysis, the UCSF team reviewed 38 studies assessing the association between e-cigarette use and cigarette cessation among adult smokers. They then combined the results of the 20 studies that had control groups of smokers not using e-cigarettes in a meta-analysis that concluded that the odds of quitting smoking were 28 percent lower in smokers who used e-cigarettes compared to those who did not.

There were no language restrictions imposed on the studies, which included both real-world observational as well as clinical studies. The studies included smokers who both were and were not interested in quitting, and included people as young as 15 years old.

The studies included in the analysis controlled for many variables, including demographics, past attempts to quit, and level of nicotine dependence.

“The irony is that quitting smoking is one of the main reasons both adults and kids use e-cigarettes, but the overall effect is less, not more, quitting,” said co-author Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, UCSF professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. “While there is no question that a puff on an e-cigarette is less dangerous than a puff on a conventional cigarette, the most dangerous thing about e-cigarettes is that they keep people smoking conventional cigarettes.”

“The fact that they are freely available consumer products could be important,” Glantz added.

E-cigarette regulation has the potential to influence marketing and reasons for use, the authors wrote:

“The inclusion of e-cigarettes in smoke-free laws and voluntary smoke-free policies could help decrease use of e-cigarettes as a cigarette substitute, and, perhaps, increase their effectiveness for smoking cessation. The way e-cigarettes are available on the market – for use by anyone and for any purpose – creates a disconnect between the provision of e-cigarettes for cessation as part of a monitored clinical trial and the availability of e-cigarettes for use by the general population.”


Kalkhoran’s research was supported by the National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award T32HP19025. Glantz’s work in the project was supported by grant 1P50CA180890 from the National Cancer Institute and the FDA Center for Tobacco Products.

About UCSF: UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences, as well as a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and UCSF Health, which includes two top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, as well as other partner and affiliated hospitals and healthcare providers throughout the Bay Area. Please visit

5 thoughts on “Claim: E-cigarettes, as used, aren’t helping smokers quit, study shows”

  1. 2 Stories about e-cigs. First, a young man who worked for me was a heavy smoker and tried on numerous occasions to quit unsuccessfully. After talking to him, I bought him an e-cig. He quit inside of 8 months and has been off of everything now for 2+ years. So yes, they work.

    Second, a middle aged woman who currently works for me is a heavy smoker. She knows she needs to quit, has tried several times unsuccessfully. She has a hacking (smokers) cough, gravelly voice, drawn facial features of a long term smoker, high blood pressure and a host of other conditions. I suggested she try e-cigs from the success of the story 1. She is so convinced that the “chemicals” in e-cigs are worse for her than the regular cigarettes she will not even consider it.

    We are so bombarded by the “chemical” scare, people are actually choosing to continue to smoke.

    Go figure.

  2. Speaking as an ex smoker who smoked 30+ a day for 47 years and who hasn’t had a cigarette now for over 9 months because of my Ecig/Vaporizer I would have to say that this report is absolute garbage. Sure I replaced cigarettes with a vaporizer but I’m slowly reducing my nicotine content. Over 30 shots of nicotine a day for 47 years is no easy addiction to quit, believe me.

    The tobacco plant produces six tobacco alkaloids nicotine being but one. Sure it’s the largest by volume but it’s the other five that are more of a problem two being primary carcinogens.

    Even though I now use a vaporizer my health has improved tremendously. I no longer cough continually and my breathing is now easy and free. My doctor is very happy with what I’m doing, she said to me, “Rex it’s not the nicotine that kills it’s the tar plus all the other thousand odd chemicals you get from burning tobacco”.

    My cardiologist (an Associate Professor) is amazed that I no longer smoke and is also very pleased after years of trying to get me to quit. In fact two months ago for the first time in over four years my heart stress test was normal.

    Currently here in NSW Australia vaporizers themselves are legal but that may well change especially in NSW if/when the Labor party gets into government.

    Ecig/vaporizers cost the tax payer absolutely nothing and if my personal experience is anything to go bye could save the public health system huge amounts of money.

    Yours sincerely


  3. Studies – FDA studies …. tobacco industry STUDIES… and they legally add over 1000 chemicals to each puff, chemicals known to cause cancer! Vapo “thing” is that an E cig.? FYI it’s working for me – smoker 17 years Santa Cruz Ca.. Have not smoked a “cancer stick” in a week! Vapo gadget I see as a temp. (rescue) aide, soon to end it as well. Thrilled “republican” !

  4. To borrow the argument used by defenders of Colorado’s legalization: “It is too early to make such determinations. More study is required to truly tell if these are the effects”

    If they can’t prove harm, they need to go home and “Tell your Mother she wants you.”

  5. I have to call bullshit on this study inasmuch as it was sponsored by the NIH and completed at UCSF, and thus reeks of an agenda driven research project with a predetermined outcome.

    If people are going to use Nicotine, then they’re going to use it. (Or use something else; some people – 1.5% of the population – are naturally just addicts.) And if they wish to quit, then they’re going to quit. And if they wish to quit, or sorta’ quit, by vaping, then they should be free to do so, and without a lot of nanny-state, big medicine and big pharma posturing and maneuvering for advantage and profit.

    Maintaining a profit center and professional and regulatory advantage is really is really all this study is about.

    Just a thought.


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