New research indicates smoking cessation aids work better when used in conjunction with vaping
More and more we are seeing people looking to quit smoking using prescription drugs as a cessation tool. However, a study out of the University of California at San Diego’s School of Medicine has found that these prescription drugs are not meeting the effectiveness they had in clinical trials. Their findings indicate that actually the efficacy of the prescription drug was correlated with the treatment strategies and additional cessation tools implemented alongside the drug.
34% of smokers have utilized prescription drugs as a cessation aid, but relying on prescription drugs only results in much lower rates of success. This difference is so dramatic that real-world results with the prescription drugs are half the percentage they were in clinical trials. But by pairing additional support and cessation tools with their medication, patients can significantly increase their likelihood of success. Dr. Eric Leas of Moores Cancer Center and the lead researcher on the UC San Diego team said: ”The results of randomized trials that tested these interventional drugs showed the promise of doubling cessation rates, but that has not translated into the real world.”
The UC San Diego Study
The study by UC of San Diego School of Medicine was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The team studied the effectiveness of the three most popular smoking cessation prescription drugs; varenicline, bupropion, and high strength nicotine patches. They collected information from a census-like survey called The Current Population Survey – Tobacco Use Supplement. Data was gathered and analyzed for smokers 18 years and older. Surveys were submitted from across the country, and researchers organized them into groups based on specific factors that could have an impact on their tobacco use. The grouping or matching was done to limit bias during testing. Even with the system in place, Dr. Leas and the team did not find any results matching those of the clinical trials.
Several factors appeared to have a positive influence on those looking to quit. First was behavioral counseling, many states like New York and California offer free over the phone counseling for those looking to stop smoking. While these services are rarely utilized, Dr. Leas and the team highly recommend them and their effectiveness in combination with prescriptions, saying the critical part of any counseling program for smokers is providing a program that helps keep track of and support them in the overall process of quitting. The extra bit of help makes a big difference for all smokers, but especially those on prescriptions.
The most senior member of the UC San Diego team, Dr. John Pierce said “Evidence is pointing to an important role of behavioral counseling when prescribing pharmaceutical aids. If the products were approved with counseling, we might have better success rates. As it is, less than 2 percent of smokers who use a pharmaceutical aid are using any behavioral counseling. In both of these longitudinal studies, this was a recipe for relapse to smoking.”
Vaping has continued to grow in popularity as more and more studies and scientists back it as a powerful smoking cessation and harm reduction tool. Respected institutions, like the UK’s public health agency, Public Health England, are also backing vaping and its benefits for smokers. Despite the media’s continually negative coverage and the resulting poor public opinion, e-cigarettes have been growing as an excellent option for smoking cessation. On its own vaping has been shown to be an extremely useful cessation tool, and if they were more frequently brought in to use alongside prescriptions, they could prove to be the most effective pairing for smoking cessation and harm reduction.
A study published last fall out of the University of Louisville looked at various smoking cessation and quitting tools. They tracked the success of methods ranging from going cold turkey, to smokeless tobacco, and prescription therapies. Ultimately they found vaping to be a more effective tool than any other. With scientific studies continuing to back vaping it could mean non-nicotine e-liquids may be on track to become the leading option for supporting prescription cessation options.
The fight against smoking is still going but vaping just may be the missing piece to ending smoking once and for all. Unfortunately for that to happen public perception must first change. Misinformation is being spread every day; many people are under the misconception that vaping is as harmful as smoking. It is vital that these misconceptions are corrected with studies that support vaping and prove it’s value for smokers looking to quit.
Government agencies need to be held to this standard as well. The British Psychological Society updated their policies on vaping based on new understandings, and with education and improved public perceptions, others are sure to follow. The BPS identified many of the physical and psychological cues of vaping; such as bringing the e-cigarette to your mouth and exhaling a cloud, to be key to vaping’s effectiveness. Vaping is an excellent tool alone, but when paired with prescription cessation, which lacks psychological cues, it could be a total game-changer. It is essential for public health, and for the health and safety smokers and their families that vaping become more accepted.
Do you think prescription drugs alone are enough to help someone quit smoking? Should vaping be supported as not only a smoking cessation tool but a boost to others as well? Why do you think that vaping has proven to be so useful for smoking cessation purposes? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.