The finding was part of a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, which tracked 48 smokers who were unwilling to quit smoking.
Participants were divided into three groups: two e-cigarette groups and a control group that switched from tobacco to e-cigarettes two months into the eight-month study. During the testing period all three groups were only allowed e-cigarettes. The difference between the groups occurred in between the testing periods.
“At the end of the 8-month study, 21 percent of all participants had stopped smoking tobacco entirely,” Ingraham writes. “An additional 23 percent reported cutting the number of tobacco cigarettes they smoked per day by half.” Across all three groups, total tobacco consumption fell by 60 percent, and 44 percent of the smokers had reduced or eliminated their tobacco use at the end of the eight months, Ingraham reports.
“The nicotine e-cig offers many smokers a successful alternative for smoking less – or even quitting altogether,” write authors Frank Baeyens and Dinska Van Gucht. “E-cig users get the experience of smoking a cigarette and inhale nicotine vapor, but do not suffer the damaging effects of a tobacco cigarette.”
Ingraham lists many of the pros and cons of e-cigs and concludes, “From a public health standpoint, if we’re interested in promoting smoking cessation it would seem sensible to encourage studies like this one, which point to new avenues for reducing the harms of smoking and helping people quit altogether.”
In some wealthy areas, smoking rates have declined, while smoking rates in working class and rural areas have remained stable. Use of electronic cigarettes among rural teens has also risen in recent years, prompting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to propose rules to give it authority over e-cigarettes, an industry that accounts for about $2.5 billion in annual sales.