When it comes to the benefits and risks of e-cigarettes, scientists and smokers alike can’t seem to agree on much. Are they a “healthier” alternative to traditional cigarettes? Can e-cigs actually help you quit smoking? Is vaping addictive?
So far, research on e-cigs has fallen on both sides of the fence. It seems like every few months a study emerges that contradicts its predecessor.
Case in point: In 2016, we published a story on a study which showed that vapers were 28% less likely to quit cigarettes than smokers who didn’t vape.
Now, over a year later, a new study has emerged—with the exact opposite conclusion: More than half of daily e-cig users in America have quit smoking traditional cigarettes in the last five years, compared to just 28% of adult smokers who have never vaped before, according to a study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.
Using data from the 2014 and 2015 National Health Survey (restricting the sample to current and former smokers who quit in 2010 or later), researchers found that daily e-cig use was in fact the strongest predictor of quitting smoking. People who only vaped occasionally were actually less likely to quit.
“While questions regarding the efficacy of e-cigs for smoking cessation remain, our findings suggest that frequent e-cig use may play an important role in cessation or relapse prevention for some smokers,” says Daniel Giovenco, Ph.D., a lead author on the study and assistant professor of sociomedical sciences.
At the end of the day (and after accounting for a variety of controlling factors like desire to quit, educational attainment, health insurance, and age), the research found that the probability of someone quitting traditional cigarettes was three times higher if they frequently used e-cigarettes, compared to non-vapers.
But regardless of whether you use e-cigs to help you quit or just shut down your nicotine habit cold turkey, it’s time to toss those cigarettes—non-smokers are statistically happier and richer. And if that’s not incentive, we don’t know what is.