E-cigarettes are as effective as nicotine patches in helping smokers to quit the habit, according to new research. In the first study to compare the two methods of quitting, scientists at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, found that the battery-operated gadgets were just as good as nicotine replacement products.
A total of 657 smokers were recruited for the study, each of whom wanted to give up. Nearly 300 were given e-cigarettes as an aid, while a similar number used nicotine patches. Around 70 of the volunteers were given placebo e-cigarettes that contained no nicotine.
Six months later, six to seven per cent of the participants using the e-cigarettes or the patches had managed to quit, while only four per cent of the placebo group had managed to give up.
While the figures are still relatively low, among the smokers who didn't manage to quit, nearly 60 per cent of the e-cigarette group had cut down their daily intake by at least half, compared to 41 per cent of those using nicotine patches.
Furthermore, e-cigarettes were far more popular with the smokers, with nearly 90 per cent of users saying they would recommend them to a friend, versus just over 50 per cent of the patch users.
According to the Daily Mail, Peter Hajek, an anti-smoking expert at Queen Mary University in London, described the study as 'pioneering', and suggested health officials should consider recommending e-cigarettes to smokers wanting to quit.
Mr Hajek said: "E-cigarettes also have the potential to replace cigarettes as a consumer product, so their value is not just as a treatment.
"That could stop the tobacco-related disease and death epidemic if everyone switches to a safer way of nicotine delivery."
Have you tried e-cigarettes in a bid to quit? Did they work for you? Leave your comments below...