There is not a straight forward answer to this question. E-cigarettes do indeed help people quit smoking, but can they help giving up nicotine?
E-cigarettes offer a viable alternative for tobacco smokers looking to move away from all of the health risks and problems associated with smoking traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes do not combust/burn like cigarettes do, nor do they have the toxic mix of chemical found within them. This means that those who use e-cigarettes avoid all of the tar, carbon-monoxide and other nasties that come with smoking tobacco.
As e-cigs deliver a satisfying dose of nicotine without additional toxins, e-cigarette are indeed an option for those wanting to give up smoking tobacco. In that case - yes, e-cigarettes can help to give up smoking.
Jean-Francois Etter has led research at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Over a one year period, his study surveyed tobacco users who had switched to e-cigarettes. He concluded: “clinical trials, observational studies and evidence are consistent: the electronic cigarette has helped a large number of smokers kick their habit … even when they lack the will to do so.“ And it appears to be much safer than smoking tobacco. He writes that “with electronic cigarettes, 99.9% of dangers related to smoking are eliminated“.
Those who make the switch report less coughing, better lung capacity and breathing ability, higher levels of energy and feeling more physically fit. Quitting tobacco can also improve the sex drive, which smoking tobacco has been shown to decrease.
This is a hotly debated topic, with evidence for either side being thin on the ground. Most studies, such as one recently published in Lancet, a British scientific journal, state that e-cigarettes are no more effective than using a nicotine patch.
Since the definition of addiction always includes the aspect of harm, Etter proposes that a pure nicotine addiction through e-cigarettes does not fit anymore the definition of addiction; „we’re talking about addiction when you can no longer do without a product that destroys the health and social life of the user. This is the case of tobacco that kills you, ruins you financially and isolates you, whereas this is not the case of the e-cigarette that saves you, saves you money and does not desocialize you.“
In conclusion, the answer to whether e-cigarettes can help smokers quit is both yes and no. It can help to move away from the dangers of smoking tobacco and gain more control over the nicotine levels consumed; but evidence that e-cigs are an effective tool to quit altogether is lacking. In any case, e-cigs are a smarter option over tobacco in every aspect – to the point where some scientists feel it should be recommended by doctors.