Smoking cessation: three truths about electronic cigarettes


Since its invention in the early 2000s, the electronic cigarette has never really left the public debate. For its supporters, it is an innovative device that can be of precious use in the “eternal” fight against smoking, a major public health problem. For its detractors, the e-cigarette is at best a recreational object, at worst an aggravator of nicotine dependence, with negative effects in the long term. In the midst of this slump, there are facts. Here are three on e-cigarettes and vaping more generally.

# 1 In France, electronic cigarettes … and not just vapers

According to the Tobacco Barometer published by Public Health France, the electronic cigarette has enabled more than 700,000 French smokers to permanently quit tobacco and nicotine over a little over 7 years. This is what prompted the‘National Academy of Medicine to promote a lesser evil policy on smoking cessation, believing that e-cigarettes were less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. On the other hand, the Ministry of Health is much more cautious, since no circular mentions a possible integration of the electronic cigarette in the public policy against smoking. Successive governments seem to prefer other measures such as increasing the price of a packet of cigarettes and awareness campaigns. Note that France is a “good student” in the fight against smoking. A feat when we know that the Hexagon was still nicknamed the “chimney of Europe” two decades ago.

# 2 The impact of e-cigarettes on long-term health is uncertain

No serious study has been able to follow a sample of vapers over several years. Likewise, many vapers smoke tobacco at the same time, which complicates the assessment of the health risks of e-cigarettes. If the electronic cigarette seems less dangerous than tobacco cigarettes on paper, given its chemical composition, its long-term impact remains to be defined. Remember that vaping consists of inhaling a vapor resulting from the heating of an e-liquid (liquid for electronic cigarettes), while the classic cigarette is based on the phenomenon of tobacco combustion. Result: the vaping device prevents the user from inhaling certain toxic and potentially carcinogenic substances such as tar or carbon monoxide, provided that an e-liquid is used with flawless traceability.

To fight against adulterated e-liquids or e-liquids containing illicit chemical substances, the National Agency for Food, Occupational and Environmental Safety (ANSES) provides the general public with a database listing the chemical composition. of all vaping products marketed in France.

# 3 Electronic cigarettes, more effective than nicotine patches and gums

This is all that emerges from several serious studies conducted in the United Kingdom, including the clinical trial carried out by researchers at Queen Mary University in London. Indeed, this study, which followed the smoking cessation journey of 900 smokers, showed that 18% of vaping device users were able to quit tobacco cigarettes in less than a year, for just under 10% in smokers who used another nicotine replacement such as patches and gums.

That being said, it should be remembered that the electronic cigarette only makes sense if it is considered as a temporary smoking cessation tool. In other words, the smoker who wishes to maximize his chances of quitting should in no case combine the consumption of tobacco and the use of a vaping device over time. From a health point of view, it is less dangerous to smoke tobacco than to combine tobacco and electronic cigarettes (all other things being equal). Finally, note that some manufacturers now offer smart vaping devices, which come to regulate the nicotine concentration of the e-liquid used to deliver to the vapoteur the minimum dose likely to satisfy his lack. These devices therefore make it possible to smooth the drop in nicotine inhalation over time to reduce the drawbacks of smoking cessation and improve the smoker’s chances of quitting completely.