Real-World Study Shows Vaping is the Best Way to Quit Smoking
Best Way to Quit Smoking
At this point, it’s pretty obvious that vaping helps smokers quit. Despite this, there are many, many claims to the contrary – from the almost-sensible point that we need a bit more data first to the outright absurd proposition that they actually reduce your odds of quitting.
A previous post laid out the evidence as it stands and made the case that the best you can do to argue otherwise is claim that full randomized controlled trials are the only type of evidence worth listening to. They’re great when it comes to eliminating as much potential bias as possible from a result, but it’s beyond naïve to pretend they’re the only thing you should pay attention to.
So a new study from the UK using real-world data to look at a whole host of approaches to quitting smoking, including vaping vapes and pods, is not something you should brush off lightly. With a sample size of almost 19,000 (and 2,400 using vaping to quit) and a look at how things actually play out in practice, it won’t be an easy one for the detractors to ignore.
And the results speak volumes: the smokers who tried to quit by vaping were more likely to quit than those who used Chantix, patches, gums, bupropion or any of the studied approaches.
The Study: How Effective Are Quitting Methods in the Real World?
The study (you can read it in full here) used data from the Smoking Toolkit Study, which is a national surveillance survey of adults in England with a representative sample. There are regular updates on the website and it’s generally a great place to get up-to-date statistics, but the accumulated data they’ve collected each month since 2006 is a big source of potential information about how smokers try to quit and the effectiveness of different approaches. This study essentially aims to make the most of that resource, with data running from November 2006 to July 2018.
The researchers looked at the data from the smokers who smoked cigarettes or another tobacco product (either daily or occasionally) and made a quit attempt in the year prior to the survey. The researchers split the quit attempts into ones using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT, like patches and gums) on prescription or over-the-counter, varenicline (Chantix), bupropion (WellButrin), vaping, face-to-face behavioral support, phone support (i.e. quitlines), websites, written self-help materials and hypnotherapy. They looked at which approaches the smokers used to quit and counted a success as anybody who hadn’t smoked since the last time they tried to quit.
Because the study was conducted by survey, they couldn’t verify that the participants really had quit with lab tests, but generally speaking people are less likely to lie in population-level surveys than strict clinical trials so this shouldn’t cause an issue with the results.
The researchers looked at other factors in the analysis, too. For example, they took into account the level of smokers’ addictions, how long ago the quit attempt started, how many quit attempts they had in the past year, some demographic characteristics (e.g. age or socioeconomic status) and a few other factors (such as the time of year the attempt took place in, e.g. the surge in the new year). The researchers analyzed the data using four models, which looked at the data in different ways – e.g. adjusting for use of multiple quitting methods, adjusting for other factors without taking into account multiple approaches and adjusting for both – to get a broader picture of what’s going on.
Vaping Works, So Let’s Get Behind It
If you’ve been following the science, this study is not really news. We know vaping works. But the more results like this one hit the journals, and the more we promote results like this that show the huge potential vaping has to reduce the amount of death and suffering caused by smoking, the more chance that legislators around the world will start to take notice. It’s an uphill battle, but every piece of evidence is a valuable weapon in the fight against misinformation.