Study finds e-cigarettes comparable to patches in smoking cessation

E-cigarettes 'modestly effective,' though researchers say more studies needed

NEW YORK — E-cigarettes may be as effective as nicotine patches in helping smokers quit, according to a new study.

Researchers in Auckland, New Zealand, selected 657 smokers who were attempting to quit, dividing them into one group of 289 who received e-cigarettes, 295 who received nicotine patches and 73 who received placebo e-cigarettes without nicotine. The study was published online Monday in British medical journal The Lancet.

After six months, the researchers found, 7.3% of smokers in the e-cigarette group had not smoked cigarettes, compared with 5.8% who used patches and 4.1% who used placebo e-cigarettes.

Still, the researchers cautioned that overall, abstinence from tobacco was lower than anticipated, giving insufficient cause to claim that e-cigarettes are superior to patches or placebo e-cigarettes, but the researchers did conclude that they were "modestly effective" and seemed comparable to nicotine patches.

"Uncertainty exists about the place of e-cigarettes in tobacco control, and more research is urgently needed to clearly establish their overall benefits and harms at both individual and population levels," the researchers wrote.

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