posted by Elaine Keller
AUTHORS NOTE: This is Part 1 of 2. On September 26, the anti-smoker group, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) issued a press release making false claims about e-cigarette vendors misleading the public about the safety of e-cigarettes and their efficacy for smoking cessation. CASAA has responded with a rebuttal press release (go read it, and then hit the tweet etc. buttons to raise its profile!). Our rebuttal had to be drastically shortened for the press release version, however, so here we share the original. Today’s post addresses the smoking cessation issue. Tomorrow’s post will address the ANR’s misleading statements about the safety of vapor.
SPRINGFIELD, VA, October 1, 2012
–Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) and other proponents of the extremely ineffective abstinence-only approach to smoking cessation are misleading the public about hazards of electronic cigarettes through paid press releases, social media, and even scientific publications and conferences. A recent press release by ANR also falsely claims that there is “a lack of independent peer-reviewed scientific evidence demonstrating the safety or efficacy” of electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation.
The problem with their preferred abstinence-only approach is simple: It doesn’t work. Every medically-approved method of smoking cessation is based on becoming 100% abstinent from any form of nicotine. FDA-approved nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, nasal sprays, and oral inhalers are referred to as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products, but all these products are accompanied by directions to gradually reduce the daily intake of nicotine to zero.
A study published in 2003 found that in the real world, over-the-counter NRT has a 93% mid-year failure rate. A 2012 study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Massachusetts found that the relapse rate was the same for those using NRT as those who had not, regardless of whether they received counseling support.
In contrast, a growing body of scientific evidence is showing that providing smokers with a low-risk alternative such as electronic cigarettes is a much more effective way than nicotine-abstinence to achieve abstinence from smoking.
BMC Public Health is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that published the results of an Italian pilot study in November, 2011, that monitored modifications in smoking habits of 40 smokers unwilling to quit, hoping to see a reduction in the number of cigarettes per day (CPD) smoked. The researchers were pleased to observe a 50% CPD reduction in 32.5% of subjects and an 80% reduction in 12.5% of subjects. But they were astonished to discover that at the end of the 6 month study, 22.5% of these unwilling-to-quit subjects had completely stopped smoking.
Among smokers that want to quit, the results are even more remarkable. Another peer-reviewed scientific journal, the American Journal of Public Health published the results of an online survey of first-time buyers of a particular brand of e-cigarette. The 6-month point prevalence smoking abstinence rate was 31% among this group.
In June 2011, the peer-reviewed medical journal, Addiction, published the results of an internet survey of over 3,500 e-cigarette users who used a variety of brands and nicotine strengths. The survey found that 77% of daily e-cigarette users had become former smokers.
E-cigarette users who have achieved smoking abstinence report improvements in their health ranging from a reduction in COPD and asthma symptoms to better markers of cardiovascular health such as blood pressure and lipid measures. Researchers have found no increase in blood pressure or heart rate among subjects trying e-cigarettes for the first time.