Electronic Cigarettes in North AmericaCLINICAL PERSPECTIVE
History, Use, and Implications for Smoking Cessation
Background—Designed to mimic the look and feel of tobacco cigarettes, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) may facilitate smoking cessation. However, the efficacy and safety of e-cigarette use for this purpose remain poorly understood. Our objectives were to review the available data on the efficacy and safety of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation and to consider issues relevant to the context in which they are used, including product awareness and regulatory and ethical concerns.
Methods and Results—We systematically searched PubMed for randomized controlled trials and uncontrolled, experimental studies involving e-cigarettes. Included studies were limited to English or French language reports. Quality assessment was performed according to the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool. We identified 169 publications, of which 7 studies were included. Studies have concluded that e-cigarettes can help reduce the number of cigarettes smoked and may be as effective for smoking cessation as the nicotine patch. Although there is a lack of data concerning the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation therapy, available evidence showed no significant difference in adverse event rates between e-cigarettes and the nicotine patch. E-cigarettes are widely used among smokers attempting to quit. However, significant international variation remains in the regulatory mechanisms governing the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes. Ethical concerns surround the use of e-cigarettes among minors and their potential to undermine efforts to reduce cigarette smoking.
Conclusion—Given the limited available evidence on the risks and benefits of e-cigarette use, large, randomized, controlled trials are urgently needed to definitively establish their potential for smoking cessation.
- Received September 24, 2013.
- Accepted February 25, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.