The landmark study marks the first randomized trial to test the effectiveness of modern e-cigarettes vs. nicotine replacement products, according to Peter Hajek, a psychologist at the Queen Mary University of London, who led the study.
Hajek’s research team determined that 18% of e-cig users had kicked real cigarettes after a year, compared with just 9.9% of those in the nicotine replacement group. Both groups received additional behavioral support in order to kick smoking.
The medical industry has been historically reluctant to recommend e-cigarettes for smoking cessation due to a lack of studies on the matter, but “This is now likely to change,” Hajek said in a statement after the findings were announced.
Good news for the electronic cigarette world notwithstanding, there is still a vocal cross section of naysayers on the topic, including one who published an editorial after the study was announced, calling for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce an immediate ban on all such electronic smoking devices and their “juices” over their potential addictive tendencies.
“We fear that the creation of a generation of nicotine-addicted teenagers will lead to a resurgence in the use of combustible tobacco in the decades to come,” said lead author Jeffrey Drazen, editor in chief of NEJM.
E-cigarettes have also been linked to an incurable lung disease known as bronchitis obliterans, more commonly known as ‘popcorn lung,’ according to numerous studies, including one released by the Harvard School of Public Health in 2015.
As if that weren’t enough, the FDA announced in 2017 that it was investigating the dangers of exploding batteries in electronic cigarettes. The Associated Press reported prior to the announcement that the FDA had identified at least 66 e-cigarette explosions between 2015 and early 2016. The batteries overheated, caught fire or blew up, according to the AP.