The authors examined whether increased use of e-cigarettes in the United States were associated with an increase in smoking cessation using five of the US Current Population Survey on tobacco use from years 2001-2002, 2003, 2006-2007, 2010-2011, and 2014-2015.
The authors obtained e-cigarette using a total sample from the 2014-2015 survey, which included 161,054 survey participants, or 8.5 percent of US adults that had ever-tried e-cigarettes. Smoking cessation was defined as those “whore reported smoking cigarettes 12 months before the survey” and included 23,270 participants in the 2014-2015 survey. Rates from the 2014-2015 surveys were compared with rates from previous surveys.
The study found that among smokers and recent quitters, 38.2 percent and 49.3 percent, respectively, had tried e-cigarettes. Further, 11.5 percent of smokers and 19 percent of recent quitters were currently using e-cigarettes. The authors found that “e-cigarette users were more likely than non-users to quit smoking.”
Implications: The role of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation is still widely contested. This study provides evidence that e-cigarettes and vaping devices are used by former smokers and can help adults quit smoking and remain smoke-free.
Objective: To examine whether the increase in use of electronic cigarettes in the USA, which became noticeable around 2010 and increased dramatically by 2014, was associated with a change in overall smoking cessation rate at the population level.
Design: Population surveys with nationally representative samples.
Setting: Five of the US Current Population Survey-Tobacco Use Supplement (CPS-TUS) in 2001-02, 2003, 2006-07, 2010-11, and 2014-15.
Participants: Data on e-cigarette use were obtained from the total sample of the 2014-15 CPS-TUS (n=161 054). Smoking cessation rates were obtained from those who reported smoking cigarettes 12 months before the survey (n=23 270). Rates from 2014-15 CPS-TUS were then compared with those from 2010-11 CPS-TUS (n=27 280) and those from three other previous surveys.
Main outcome measures: Rate of attempt to quit cigarette smoking and the rate of successfully quitting smoking, defined as having quit smoking for at least three months.
Results: Of 161 054 respondents to the 2014-15 survey, 22 548 were current smokers and 2136 recent quitters. Among them, 38.2% of current smokers and 49.3% of recent quitters had tried e-cigarettes, and 11.5% and 19.0% used them currently (every day or some days). E-cigarette users were more likely than non-users to attempt to quit smoking, 65.1% v 40.1% (change=25.0%, 95% confidence interval 23.2% to 26.9%), and more likely to succeed in quitting, 8.2% v 4.8% (3.5%, 2.5% to 4.5%). The overall population cessation rate for 2014-15 was significantly higher than that for 2010-11, 5.6% v 4.5% (1.1%, 0.6% to 1.5%), and higher than those for all other survey years (range 4.3-4.5%).
Conclusion: The substantial increase in e-cigarette use among US adult smokers was associated with a statistically significant increase in the smoking cessation rate at the population level. These findings need to be weighed carefully in regulatory policy making regarding e-cigarettes and in planning tobacco control interventions.
Science Media Centre, expert reaction to study looking at e-cigarette use in adult smokers and smoking cessation in the US, 2017
Tobacco Truth, Population-Level Proof: E-Cigarettes Are Popular & Successful Quit-Smoking Aids, 2017
Clive Bates and Colin Mendelsohn, “Do vapour products reduce or increase smoking?”,