The first trial of its kind from the University of Auckland found that both these methods showed similar results with wannabe quitters. In both cases, smokers remained abstinent from smoking for six months after using either the patch of e-cigarette over a 12-week period.
Published in The Lancet, the study is only the second controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of e-cigarettes. Associate Professor Chris Bullen, director of The University of Auckland’s National Institute of Health Innovation (NIHI) led the team of researchers, who studied 657 smokers.
“While our results don’t show any clear-cut differences between e-cigarettes and patches in terms of quit success after six months, it certainly seems that e-cigarettes were more effective in helping smokers who didn’t quit to cut down,” says Associate Professor Bullen.
Participants were divided into three groups: group one were given a three-month supply of commercially available e-cigarettes, containing 16mg of nicotine. Group two were given a three month supply of nicotine patches, while group three received placebo e-cigarettes that contained no nicotine at all. Participants then underwent six months of regular testing afterwards to establish whether they had successfully refrained from smoking.
While the proportion of participants who successfully quit (7.3 per cent) was highest in the e-cigarettes group (compared to 5.8 per cent for those in the nicotine patches group, and 4.1 per cent in the placebo e-cigarettes group), these differences were not statistically significant, suggesting that e-cigarettes are about as effective as nicotine patches in helping people to quit for at least six months.