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E-cigarettes Do Not Help Smokers Quit

Last updated July 13, 2015

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD MPH

Photo by Lindsay Fox

The researchers found that women, younger adults, and individuals with less education used e-cigarettes more. Also, individuals who used e-cigarettes were more likely to smoke their first cigarette less than 30 minutes after waking up. Additionally, the study reports that e-cigarette users were not more likely to want to quit smoking than non-users.


The popular cigarette substitute, e-cigarette, are often marketed as a smoking cessation tool. New research published in JAMA Internal Medicine, concluded that there is no association between e-cigarette practice and reduced cigarette consumption.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco interviewed 949 smokers, including 88 smokers who reported using e-cigarettes in the past month, asking questions like the following: 

  • How many cigarettes the participants smoke each day?
  • How long it is until the participants' first cigarette of the day?
  • If and when they intend on quitting smoking
  • Whether the participants had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.

The researchers found that women, younger adults, and individuals with less education used e-cigarettes more. Also, individuals who used e-cigarettes were more likely to smoke their first cigarette less than 30 minutes after waking up. Additionally, the study reports that e-cigarette users were not more likely to want to quit smoking than non-users.

Although 13.5 percent of the sample quit smoking, few of the successful quitters used e-cigarettes. This helped the researchers conclude that there was no significant link between e-cigarettes and quitting smoking.

The authors of the studies write, “Regulations should prohibit advertising claiming or suggesting that e-cigarettes are effective smoking cessation devices until claims are supported by scientific evidence.”

Dr. Mitchell H. Katz, deputy editor of JAMA Internal Medicine believes that though there is no data showing the benefits of e-cigarettes, there is a potential harm of e-cigarettes being unregulated.

Melodie Tilson, the director of policy for the Non-Smokers' Rights Association fears that e-cigarettes are readily available everywhere, which could entice a new generation of smokers. She says, “We want to base policy on much more rigorous studies…and other studies do show that e-cigarettes do help people quit, including one showing that e-cigarettes are at least as effective as nicotine patches.”

Additional Resources:

A Longitudinal Analysis of Electronic Cigarette Use and Smoking Cessation

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: March 27, 2014
Last updated: July 13, 2015