Association Between E-Cigarette Use and Smoking Cessation in the EU in 2017: Analysis of a Representative Sample of 13,057 Europeans from 28 Countries

Summary of Study

Bottom Line: This study examines the association between e-cigarette use and smoking cessation according to e-cigarette use frequency and quit duration. It finds that e-cigarette use is correlated with recent smoking cessation yet not correlated with historic smoking cessation. This finding suggests that e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking while not posing a new threat to those who have already quit for years.

One of the main aspects determining the public health impact of e-cigarettes is their effectiveness in smoking cessation. Several studies have tried to address this research question, with conflicting results. Some studies have found that e-cigarettes, particularly frequent use as part of a quit attempt, are effective in smoking cessation.

This study finds that current daily e-cigarette use in the EU in 2017 was rare among former smokers of >10 years and was positively associated with recent (≤5 years) smoking cessation. Former daily e-cigarette use was also positively associated with recent (≤2 years) smoking cessation. The study found that daily e-cigarette use was strongly associated with being a recent (≤5 years) former smoker.

Specifically:

  • 14.1% of current smokers and 8.0% of former smokers reported current or former e-cigarette use. 
  • More former compared with current smokers were current daily e-cigarette users.
  • More current smokers were current occasional, former daily and former occasional e-cigarette users.
  • E-cigarette use was rare in former smokers of >10 years, with 97.7% reporting never use.
  • Current daily e-cigarette use was more prevalent in former smokers of ≤2 and 3–5 years compared with all other groups.
  • When smoking cessation duration was not taken into consideration, daily e-cigarette users were 50% more likely to be former smokers compared with never e-cigarette users.
  • Former daily e-cigarette use was positively associated with being a former smoker of ≤2 years and was negatively associated with being a former smoker of 6–10 years and >10 years.

Care should be taken to create a regulatory framework that will not be overly restrictive and will achieve a perfect balance between encouraging smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit with approved methods to use e-cigarettes as smoking cessation aids.

Read the full study here.