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Vaping may help some people to smoke, but what about the nicotine?

E-cigarettes helped more people quit smoking than traditional nicotine replacement therapies, according to a new study – but Vapes are no miracle cure for nicotine addiction. Most smokers who tried steam products still smoked cigarettes by the end of the process, and most of the vapers who were able to quit bubbled on a year later.

The new study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that 18 percent of smokers who switched to e-cigarettes gave up their cigarettes after one year. That's more than the 9.9 percent of people who have stopped smoking with conventional killers such as patches, chewing gum, lozenges or inhalers. The findings contribute to the claim that e-cigarettes could help some people to smoke, but there is still much that we do not know about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes or how to prevent millions of teenagers from smoking them use.

E-cigarette companies market themselves as a less risky alternative for people who do not want to smoke cigarettes. Being less risky than cigarettes is a low bar, according to CDC: "Burnt cigarettes are exceptionally dangerous and kill half of all people who smoke long term." And the jury was not sure if e-cigarettes could help people get out , Vox reports: Few rigorous trials have compared vaping with other exit aids such as patches or chewing gum.

"This type of study, a systematic, well-conducted, randomized, controlled trial, lacked in decades of debate about the potential benefits and harms of e-cigarettes," Gideon St. Helen, a tobacco researcher at the University of California at San Francisco who was not involved in the research, says in an email to The Verge . There are still important reservations: for example, study participants knew whether they used e-cigarettes or patches – and that knowledge could have distorted the results if they thought one strategy was better than the other. In addition, the study does not rate any more popular types of e-cigarettes like Juul. However, St. Helen says, "The results are really important and may change your success."

Researchers led by Peter Hajek, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, found 866 people who wanted to quit smoking and I did not care how. For the first month, they all received weekly one-to-one interviews with a clinician. Half also received their favorite nicotine replacement therapies, and half received a starter kit for a refillable vape, including a bottle of tobacco-royale flavored juice. The participants could exchange the device or the liquid if they wanted.

The researchers regularly reviewed the subjects, assessing things like their sleep, whether they felt sick, whether their throat or mouth hurt, and how much mucus they were clearing their throat. The big question was whether attendees could stay out of cigarettes for a year. The researchers checked by measuring the carbon monoxide exhaled by the study participants – a marker for cigarette smoking. After one year, 18 percent of e-cigarette users stopped smoking, as did 10 percent of the nicotine replacement group. E-cigarette consumers liked their fumes more than the other group than their nicotine replacement therapies and they had less severe withdrawal symptoms.

Here's the catch: of the people who used flammable cigarettes, 80 percent of people in the steam group still used e-cigarettes after one year. That's a big fraction compared to just nine percent of people who still used traditional nicotine replacement therapies at that time. While steaming made cigarettes a little easier, it did not help to give up nicotine altogether. In addition, the study did not use the types of pod-based e-cigarettes like juuls that dominate the market. The science is still to come, but given the convenience, high nicotine dose, and formulation of nicotine salts, it is possible that pod-based vaps are even more difficult to finish than the refillable type used in the study.

Long-term health effects Damping is particularly important to find out if switching to e-cigarettes signals the onset of a long-term habit. For example, we know that bad chemicals can form in the e-liquids when they are on the shelf, for example, and vapers' piss shows signs of exposure to carcinogens and irritants. Moreover, the science on the health effects of nicotine itself is still bleak: some studies suggest that it can be risky for people with heart problems. And it's addictive – which can make people feel controlled by their cravings or cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

The question, says St. Helen, is what? Yes, the study adds something that Vapers has long said: e-cigarettes could be useful tools to help a fraction of smokers exit. However, it is impossible to look at the results in a vacuum: there are 3.6 million high school and middle school students who use e-cigarettes, which the US-American Surgeon General has declared an epidemic , "This risk remains, but is it prioritized, even though this well-conducted study shows that e-cigarettes can help smokers stop smoking?" Says St. Helen. The answer is probably the regulators and the e-cigarette industry: if they can prevent young people from beating in record numbers, then maybe.

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