The Truth Behind E-Cigarettes

An ongoing study about nicotine addiction is showing that e-cigarettes are more effective than they’re given credit for. For some time, many believed that e-cigarettes were an ineffective way to quit smoking, but a study by Dr. Mark Eisenberg and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), may be proving them wrong. 

Dr. Eisenberg is a cardiologist who has been conducting smoking research for several years. His most recent study, together with the CIHR, includes a large scale trial to prove the effectiveness of e-cigarettes.

An electronic cigarette or e-cigarette is a handheld electronic device that simulates the feeling of tobacco smoking. It works by heating a liquid to generate an aerosol, commonly called a "vapor", that the users inhale. The liquid in the e-cigarette is made of nicotine and flavorings, thereby replicating a cigarette and removing the harmful smoke.

Although the health risks of e-cigarettes were uncertain when they were approved in Canada in 2015, Dr. Eisenberg’s research has proven that they in fact are much safer than conventional cigarettes.

The trial consists of 486 people who on average have been smoking a pack of cigarettes everyday for thirty five years. 45% of the people in the study are men and 55% are women, with an average age of 52. A large portion of them live with other smokers and most have unsuccessfully attempted to quit smoking before using nicotine patches and other methods.

Participants were randomly divided into three groups: one group was given e-cigarettes that contained nicotine, one was given e-cigarettes without nicotine, and the last group was only given counselling. The groups with e-cigarettes were not told which group had nicotine and which did not. Dr. Eisenberg has been consistently following up with each group. He says the preliminary data looks promising and that e-cigarettes will be an effective method to help people to quit smoking because it imitates the act of smoking.

While it’s possible to kick a nicotine habit by getting waning doses of nicotine through patches, people often find themselves missing the motion of picking up a cigarette, a motion that they do more than ten times a day. E-cigarettes allow for both nicotine secretion and the physical act of smoking.

“We are looking for a magic bullet to help people quit smoking. We are hoping e-cigarettes are that magic bullet,” says Dr. Eisenberg.

He says that even though e-cigarettes aren't completely safe, they are definitely safer than conventional cigarettes because they don’t put hundreds of chemical substances into people's bodies. Dr. Eisenberg said e-cigarettes are unsafe because they still contain tobacco and nicotine and still subject the human body to some gases and particles.

Although this trial is scheduled to continue for two more years, the results so far are showing that e-cigarettes are a much more successful tool for quitting a smoking habit than counselling.

Dr. Eisenberg stresses that even though the percentage of the population that smokes has declined in the last few decades, smoking is still a pervasive issue and deserves to be treated as such. He continues, explaining how the first time the CIHR applied for a grant to conduct this trial they were rejected. He believes that the rejection came from the belief that smoking was no longer a significant enough problem in our society.

e-ciagrettes have only been approved for three years in Canada but research has shown that they have already made a strong impact among many Canadians. We therefore eagerly await the results of this long-term study!