A Magic Bullet? The Potential Impact of E-Cigarettes on the Toll of Cigarette Smoking

Summary of Study

Bottom line: This study examines how much e-cigarettes may cut mortality by helping people quit smoking. It finds that between 143,000 to 65 million life-years are saved by e-cigarettes due to their ability to help millions of smokers transition to less harmful vaping. Vaping-induced quitters gain an extra 1.2-2.0 years of life compared to smokers who quit without vaping.

E-cigarettes hold the potential to reduce cigarette smoking’s enormous toll. Harm reduction can and should be a part of the formula that will eventually bring about the demise of smoking.

Significant recent evidence suggests e-cigarettes help reduce smoking. In both the U.S. and U.K., e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used smoking cessation aid. A recent randomized trial in three British National Health Service smoking cessation service sites found that vaping is nearly twice as effective as nicotine replacement products in smoking cessation.

One study estimates that the nearly complete transition from smoking to e-cigarettes within a decade in the US could avoid the premature loss of 6.6 million lives and save 86.7 million life-years by the end of the century.

This study finds that e-cigarettes save between 143,000 to 65 million life-years, depending on assumptions of vaping harm. With 5% harm and a 100% cessation rate increase, 44 million life-years are saved. Vaping is likely to reduce smoking's death toll by as much as one-fifth by helping millions of people quit cigarettes. On average, “e-quitters” from all smokers in 2018 will gain from 1.2-2.0 life-years compared to smokers who quit without vaping.

Overall, these findings suggest that e-cigarettes represent a meaningful public health contribution and could represent an even more substantial one.

Access the full study HERE.