New research shows that former smokers who are recent quitters, within the last five years, are likely to vape e-cigarettes. In contrast, quitters from more than 10 years ago are rarely vapers.
The authors of the study say that this work means that for people quitting now and in recent years, e-cigarettes are a cessation aid. People who quit before e-cigarettes used other methods, and so are far less likely to use them now.
In other words: since some successful quitters then stop using e-cigarettes and current vapers are more likely to be recent quitters than non-vapers, e-cigarettes are an effective and useful cessation aid. This is in direct contrast to the anti-vaping argument that e-cigarettes simply replace smoking products.
The recent quitters study
In order to better understand how and why current and former smokers vape, the researchers accessed data from 28 member states in the EU on 13,057 people (6904 current and 6153 former smokers). Researchers interviewed these participants face-to-face about their use of tobacco and e-cigarettes for a Eurobarometer survey. This is a survey that takes place regularly in the EU.
2.4 percent of current smokers and 3.3 percent of former smokers reported daily e-cigarette use. In contrast, 5.6 percent of current smokers and 1.9 percent of former smokers reported former daily use. So current smokers are somewhat more likely to also vape, while former smokers are less likely to vape. In other words, former smokers are also more likely to be former daily vapers.
A 2014 Eurobarometer survey suggested that vaping e-cigarettes might inhibit smoking cessation, because it found that daily e-cigarette use was negatively associated with being a former smoker compared with no current or previous e-cigarette use. However, the 2014 survey failed to account for when interviewees had quit smoking.
The 2017 survey showed that over half of all former smokers quit more than 10 years ago. Ongoing daily e-cigarette use was rare in the former smoker group: only 0.2 percent.
Furthermore, e-cigarette use was highest, 12.9 percent, among recent quitters. There are former smokers who quit within the last two years. In the three to five year range the daily vaping rate dropped to 9 percent.
Current regular e-cigarette use among participants was associated with quitting smoking recently. Therefore, e-cigarettes appear to help successful smoking cessation.
Current e-cigarette vapers were nearly five times more likely than those who had never used e-cigarettes to be recent quitters. This group was also more than three times more likely to have quit in the three to five year range.
Takeaways from the work
The data also suggests that many successful quitters also give up up e-cigarettes. Of course, the researchers state that some current and former smokers who do or did use e-cigarettes do not see them as a smoking cessation aid.
In addition, this study’s design does not enable the researchers to establish causation, and is also reliant on self-reporting and other human error-related issues. Finally, the scientists point out that knowing more details, such as how long patients have been smoking when they try to quit, will be important to better understanding these issues.
Still, the findings show that in EU member states, current daily e-cigarette use is definitely associated with recent quitters.