E-Cigarettes Won't Help You Quit, Study Finds
But research design was flawed, critic says
"That's because the study does not examine the rate of successful smoking cessation among e-cigarette users who want to quit smoking or cut down substantially on the amount that they smoke, and who are using e-cigarettes in an attempt to accomplish this," Siegel said. "Instead, the study examines the percentage of quitting among all smokers who have ever tried e-cigarettes for any reason."
Many of the smokers who tried e-cigarettes may have done so out of curiosity, Siegel said.
"It is plausible, in fact, probable, that many of these 88 smokers were not actually interested in quitting or trying to quit with electronic cigarettes," he said. "These products have become very popular and have gained widespread media attention, and it is entirely possible that many of these smokers simply wanted to see what the big fuss is all about."
Calling that a "fatal flaw" in the research, Siegel said it "destroys the validity of the authors' conclusion."
It would be a tragedy, he said, if policy makers use the study to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation purposes.
Erika Ford, assistant vice president for national advocacy at the American Lung Association, said the study confirms what is already clear -- "e-cigarettes are not associated with quitting among smokers."
Ford noted that most e-cigarette companies no longer make claims that their products help smokers quit. "But there is a need for the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to begin their oversight of these products. It's time for the FDA to find out which products are making no smoking claims and which ones might be in violation of current law," she said.
The FDA plans to introduce regulations for e-cigarettes, but hasn't yet. In the past, the agency has warned companies about making false claims and for poor manufacturing practices.