There’s been a ton of controversy over whether electronic cigarettes actually help people ditch their nicotine habit.
So, in an attempt to come to a definitive conclusion, researchers reviewed a meta-analysis of 38 studies linking e-cigarette use and smoking cessation in smokers as young as 15. Researchers pored over multiple aspects of study data, like “study location, design, population, definition and prevalence of e-cigarette use, comparison group (if applicable), cigarette consumption, level of nicotine dependence, other confounders, definition of quitting smoking, and odds of quitting smoking,” per the press release. After analyzing the data, the researchers determined that e-cigarette users are 28 percent less likely to quit smoking than those who never used e-cigarettes at all, according to their review—the largest study ever on the topic—published Thursday in The Lancet Repiratory Medicine.
Why? There's no clear reason, but researchers point out that even though e-cigarettes aren't as unhealthy traditional tobacco cigarettes, e-cigs still encourage people to "light up"—and that means smokers have simply swapped one habit for another. "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," coauthor Stanton A. Glantz, Ph.D., professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, said in the release. "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."
What's more: "People think that they can use them in places that you can’t smoke cigarettes. Smokefree environments help people quit smoking and ecigs undermine that," Glantz told us in an e-mail.
What’s more, a study published in Chemical Research in Toxicology in December 2015 found that “electronic cigarettes produce highly reactive free radicals—molecules associated with cell damage and cancer—and may pose a health risk to users,” per the press release.
If you're a frequent e-cig user who is dependent on tobacco, consider dropping the faux cig, picking up your phone, and downloading these 5 top-rated apps to quit smoking to effectively help you chuck the habit once and for all.