Studies underway to explore the possibility of e-cigs being used a as smoking cessation devise December 12, 2016 17:32


Although it is a common fact that the habit of smoking is risky, it continues to be the cause of 37,000 deaths in Canada every year. Also, only 10%-20% of active smokers can stop the smoking habit with the use of present cessation therapies like gum, counseling and nicotine patches. The need for new cessation techniques led to the multiple clinical study on the safety and efficacy of electronic cigarettes.  The study is coordinated by Dr. Mark Eisenberg at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH).

Dr. Eisenberg who is a cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Lady Davis Institute at the JGH, stressed that smoking is the highest cause of mortality which can be otherwise prevented. He further described the goal of the study as to determine the efficacy of e-cigarettes as a e media of smoking withdrawal or total quitting the habit of smoking

The study will recruit subjects who are above the age of 18 years and had smoked a minimum of 10 cigarettes in a day for over a year and have been motivated to quit. The study envisages 486 participants in total. The subjects will be randomly allocated into three therapy groups which includes:

  • nicotine filled electronic cigarettes with individual counselling;
  • non-nicotine electronic cigarettes with individual counselling; and
  • individual counselling alone.

The treatment period is set at three months and additional follow-up that will span for a year. This is to be able to ascertain if the subject is able to maintain abstinence and also study other side effects withdrawal syndromes associated with the therapies.

Dr Eisengerg acknowledged the fact that multiple study that cut across different population is required to effectively evaluate the efficacy of e-cigarettes. But he considered this study as a significant step in the right direction.

Presently, the production and use of e-cigarettes are not regulated by Health Canada or the US Food Drug and Administration. The outcome of this study will avail the regulators and other  stakeholders pertinent information about the efficacy and safety of e-cigarettes in breaking the smoking habit.

When we gave the study a closer look, we  found some fundamental flaws in this type of research.

On the first note, we think it is wrong to simply assume that the e-cigs are specifically a type of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Although they can be used as such, one should note that the primary purpose of the product is to be an alternative product containing nicotine which is in direct competition with conventional tobacco smoking, The success of e-gigs with the consumers is that the product is a more enjoyable and viable alternative to tobacco smoking.

The randomized control trials call for strict regimes for the different groups. This includes selection of devices, the flavor and strength of nicotine. This requirement on its own does annul the primary factors for successfully switching to e-cigs.

It is rife for those without personal experience to erroneously assume that the different brands of e-cigs will only have marginal difference as the case is with conventional smoking. Well, the difference is not marginal and can be compared with conventional motor vehicles. -there cannot be a hard-fast rule for all.  A study of a sports car will give a result that is not applicable to trucks, SUVs or buses.

In view of these, it should not be a surprise if the results go the same way as other past research data which are available to smokers but never utilized.