ASH Wales is calling for a review of recommendations around e-cigarettes in Wales, after a study showed they make quitting smoking easier.
The study led by Queen Mary University of London tested e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement products (NRT) such as patches and gum on 900 smokers in the first study of its kind.
It found that 18.0% of those using e-cigarettes managed to successfully quit smoking and were smoke free after a year, compared to just 9.9% of smokers using other forms of NRT.
The smokers taking part in the study were attending UK NHS stop smoking services and were provided with the products for up to three months. Each participant also received weekly one-on-one behavioural support and CO monitoring for up to four weeks.
The only previous trial comparing e-cigarettes with other NRT used early forms of e-cigarettes which delivered low doses of nicotine and involved no face to face contact with those taking part.
ASH Wales supports the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool, based on clear evidence which shows e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful than conventional cigarettes.
ASH Wales CEO Suzanne Cass said: “Currently 7% of adults in Wales use e-cigarettes – roughly 179,000 people, the vast majority of which are using them to try to quit or cut down smoking.
“Based on these figures there are tens of thousands of Welsh smokers that are yet to try an e-cigarette.
“Health professionals working in smoking cessation have a golden opportunity to promote a product which is both popular and highly effective, as this study shows.
“ASH Wales is calling for a more consistent approach on the part of health professionals when it comes to recommending e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.”
Lead researcher Professor Peter Hajek of Queen Mary University of London, said he believes the results of the study will lead the way for more health professionals to recommend the use of e-cigarettes: “Although a large number of smokers report that they have quit smoking successfully with the help of e-cigarettes, health professionals have been reluctant to recommend their use because of the lack of clear evidence from randomised controlled trials. This is now likely to change.”
Currently in Wales 19% of adults smoke, leading to over 5,000 deaths and 26,489 hospital admissions every year at a cost of £302 million to the Welsh NHS.