E-Cigarettes Twice As Effective In Helping Smokers Quit: Study

Ian Armitage was skeptical about e-cigarettes as a way to stop smoking, saying he tried vaping several years ago but gave it up.

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E-cigarettes, Smokers
A woman smokes an electronic cigarette in London, Aug. 19, 2015. VOA

A major new study provides the strongest evidence yet that vaping can help smokers quit cigarettes, with e-cigarettes proving nearly twice as effective as nicotine gums and patches.

The British research, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, could influence what doctors tell their patients and shape the debate in the U.S., where the Food and Drug Administration has come under pressure to more tightly regulate the burgeoning industry amid a surge in teenage vaping.

“We know that patients are asking about e-cigarettes and many doctors haven’t been sure what to say,” said Dr. Nancy Rigotti, a tobacco treatment specialist at Harvard Medical School who was not involved in the study. “I think they now have more evidence to endorse e-cigarettes.”

At the same time, Rigotti and other experts cautioned that no vaping products have been approved in the U.S. to help smokers quit.

e-cigarette, smokers
Packages of flavored liquids for e-cigarettes are seen displayed at a smoke shop in New York City. VOA

 

Top cause of preventable death

Smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable death worldwide, blamed for nearly 6 million deaths a year. Quitting is notoriously difficult, even with decades-old nicotine aids and newer prescription drugs. More than 55 percent of U.S. smokers try to quit each year, and only about 7 percent succeed, according to government figures.

Electronic cigarettes, which have been available in the U.S. since about 2007 and have grown into a $6.6 billion-a-year industry, are battery-powered devices that typically heat a flavored nicotine solution into an inhalable vapor.

Most experts agree the vapor is less harmful than cigarette smoke since it doesn’t contain most of the cancer-causing byproducts of burning tobacco. But there is virtually no research on the long-term effects of the chemicals in the vapor, some of which are toxic.

At the same time, there have been conflicting studies on whether e-cigarettes actually help smokers kick the habit. Last year, an influential panel of U.S. experts concluded there was only “limited evidence” of their effectiveness.

In the new study, researchers tracked nearly 900 middle-age smokers who were randomly assigned to receive either e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement products, including patches, gums and lozenges. After one year, 18 percent of e-cigarette users were smoke-free, versus 9.9 percent of those using the other products.

“Anything which helps smokers to avoid heart disease and cancer and lung disease is a good thing, and e-cigarettes can do that,” said Peter Hajek, study co-author and an addiction specialist at Queen Mary University of London.

e-cigarette, cigarettes
Customers puff on e-cigarettes at the Henley Vaporium in New York City. VOA

More rigorous

The study was more rigorous than previous ones, which largely surveyed smokers about e-cigarette use. Participants in this experiment underwent chemical breath testing.

Smokers in the e-cigarette group received a $26 starter kit, while those in the nicotine-replacement group received a three-month supply of the product of their choice, costing about $159. Participants were responsible for buying follow-up supplies.

“If you have a method of helping people with smoking cessation that is both more effective and less costly, that should be of great interest to anyone providing health services,” said Kenneth Warner, a retired University of Michigan public health professor who was not involved in the study.

Several factors may have boosted the results: All the participants were recruited from a government smoking-cessation program and were presumably motivated to quit. They also received four weeks of anti-smoking counseling.

The researchers didn’t test e-cigarettes against new drugs such as Pfizer’s Chantix, which has shown higher rates of success than older nicotine-based treatments.

Funding for the study came from the British government, which has embraced e-cigarettes as a potential tool to combat smoking through state-run health services. Some of the authors have been paid consultants to makers of anti-smoking products.

e-cigarette, vaping
In this April 11, 2018, photo, an unidentified 15-year-old high school student uses a vaping device near the school’s campus in Cambridge, Mass. Health and education officials across the country are raising alarms over wide underage use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products. The devices heat liquid into an inhalable vapor that’s sold in sugary flavors like mango and mint — and often with the addictive drug nicotine. VOA

Long-term questions

U.S. health authorities have been more reluctant about backing the products, in part because of the long-term effects are unknown.

“We need more studies about their safety profile, and I don’t think anyone should be changing practice based on one study,” said Belinda Borrelli, a psychologist specializing in smoking cessation at Boston University.

The American Heart Association backed e-cigarettes in 2014 as a last resort to help smokers quit after trying counseling and approved products. The American Cancer Society took a similar position last year.

An editorial accompanying the study and co-written by Borrelli recommended e-cigarettes only after smokers have tried and failed to quit with FDA-approved products. Also, doctors should have a clear timeline for stopping e-cigarette use.

Borrelli noted that after one year, 80 percent of the e-cigarette users in the study were still using the devices. Nine percent of the participants in the other group were still using gums and other nicotine-replacement products.

E-cigarettes, Smokers
Talia Eisenberg, co-founder of the Henley Vaporium, uses her vaping device in New York, Feb. 20, 2014. VOA

No vaping company has announced plans to seek FDA approval of its products as a quit-smoking aid. Winning such an endorsement would require large studies that can take years and cost millions of dollars.

The FDA has largely taken a hands-off approach toward vaping. It has not scientifically reviewed any of the e-cigarettes on the market and has put off some key regulations until 2022. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said he doesn’t want to over-regulate an emerging industry that could provide a safer option for adult smokers.

The delay has come under intense criticism amid an explosion in teenage vaping, driven chiefly by devices like Juul, which resembles a flash drive. Federal law prohibits sales to those under 18, but 1 in 5 high school students reported vaping last year, according to a government survey. It showed teenage use surged 78 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Tank vs. cartridge

Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids noted that the British study used so-called tank-based e-cigarettes, which allow users to customize their flavors and nicotine levels. Those devices have largely been overtaken in the U.S. by Juul and similar devices that have prefilled nicotine cartridges, or pods. Any benefit of e-cigarettes depends on the individual product and how it is used, he said.

“It is a fundamental mistake to think that all e-cigarettes are alike,” Myers said. “And in the absence of FDA regulation, a consumer has no way of knowing if the product they are using has the potential to help them or not.”

e-cigarette
E-cigarette additives impair lung function: Study.

Myers’ group is one of several anti-smoking organizations suing the FDA to immediately begin reviewing e-cigarettes.

Ian Armitage was skeptical about e-cigarettes as a way to stop smoking, saying he tried vaping several years ago but gave it up after experiencing twitching and shakes from nicotine withdrawal.

Also Read: Daily Cigarette Smoker Develop Greater Risks of Heart Attack, Says Study

`I tried it for a whole month, but it just wasn’t doing it for me,” said Armitage, an audio-visual technician in Washington. “I still wanted a cigarette afterward.”

Armitage, who has smoked for 15 years, said he also tried nicotine patches but found they irritated his skin. (VOA)

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Young Adults Unaware of Substances in Vaping Products: Study

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Vaping youth
Young adults don't know what's in the products they vape and often don't know what brand of vaping products they use. Pixabay

Researchers have found that young adults don’t know what’s in the products they vape and often don’t know what brand of vaping products they use. This is a health and lifestyle news.

For the findings, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the research team asked 445 participants, ages 17-24, about their use of pod-based e-cigarettes, including specific questions about products made by Juul, Suorin Drop, Phix and Myblu. Pod-based e-cigarettes are vaping devices that consist of a small plastic pod of nicotine-infused fluid that snaps into a vaporiser powered by a rechargeable battery.

“These young people had no idea how much nicotine they were consuming,” said study researcher Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, Professor at Stanford University in the US. According to the researchers, the data were collected in early 2019 as part of the Tobacco Perceptions Study, a longitudinal study of tobacco and nicotine use, perceptions, and susceptibility to marketing among California youth.

For the findings, participants completed a questionnaire with detailed questions about their history of nicotine consumption, including use of cigarettes; pod-based e-cigarettes, such as Juul; and other types of e-cigarettes. In addition to patterns of use, the participants were asked about their reasons for using pod-based e-cigarettes.

Vaping youth
Pod-based e-cigarettes are vaping devices that consist of a small plastic pod of nicotine-infused fluid that snaps into a vaporiser powered by a rechargeable battery. Pixabay

They were also asked about their perceptions of the nicotine content of these products. The study found that 26.3 per cent of participants had used Juul; 24 per cent had smoked traditional cigarettes; 23 per cent had used nonpod-based e-cigarettes; and smaller proportions had used other pod-based e-cigarettes.

Among the participants who had tried a nicotine product, 51.3 per cent of those who reported trying Juul had vaped with the device over the last 30 days, 28.6 per cent of those who reported trying a cigarette had smoked one within the last 30 days, and 28.7 per cent of those who reported trying a nonpod-based e-cigarette had used such a device over the last 30 days.

About half of users of pod-based e-cigarettes, including Juul, said they shared pods with friends, and nearly half did not know if they always used cartridges sold under the same brand name as their devices. The reason for choosing pod-based e-cigarettes was that they were easy to hide, according to 58 per cent of users.

Also Read- Heartbreak and Struggles Can Lead to a Physical and Mental Wellbeing: Study

The second-most-common reason, selected by 55.6 per cent of pod users, was that the smell they produce is less noticeable than other types of e-cigarettes. The researchers also found that the young people did not know how much nicotine was in the products they were using. (IANS)

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Here’s Why Vaping Can Make You More Prone To Inflammation and Infection

The predominance of these periodontal pathogens in the mouths of e-cigarette users and traditional smokers is a reflection of compromised periodontal health

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Vaping
While vaping has quickly grown in popularity in recent years, a growing number of people are falling ill or dying from vaping-related illnesses, the study said. Pixabay

Using e-cigarettes alters the mouth’s microbiome — the community of bacteria and other microorganisms — and makes users more prone to inflammation and infection, researchers have found.

While vaping has quickly grown in popularity in recent years, a growing number of people are falling ill or dying from vaping-related illnesses, the study said.

“Our study suggests that vaping electronic cigarettes causes shifts in the oral environment and highly influences the colonisation of complex microbial biofilms, which raises the risk for oral inflammation and infection,” said Indian-origin researcher and study co-author Deepak Saxena from the New York University in the US.

“Given the popularity of vaping, it is critical that we learn more about the effects of e-cigarette aerosols on the oral microbiome and host inflammatory responses in order to better understand the impact of vaping on human health,” said co-senior author Xin Li. For the study, published in the journal iScience, the research team examined e-cigarette vapour and its influence on the oral microbiome and immune health.

“The oral microbiome is of interest to us because research shows that changes in its microbial community as a result of environmental and host factors contribute to a range of health issues, including cavities, gum disease, halitosis, and medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancers,” Saxena said. They also evaluated how vaping influences infection efficiency of oral pathogens in cell lines using a novel e-cigarette aerosol generating machine and measured pro-inflammatory immune mediators.

Through oral exams and saliva samples, the researchers studied the oral microbiome of 119 human participants from three groups: e-cigarette users, regular cigarette smokers, and those who had never smoked. Gum disease or infection was significantly higher among cigarette smokers (72.5 per cent), followed by e-cigarette users (42.5 per cent) and non-smokers (28.2 per cent).

Using 16S rRNA high throughput sequencing, a technique used to profile microbial communities, the researchers observed different microorganisms in the saliva of e-cigarette users, cigarette smokers, and non-smokers. For instance, e-cigarette users had an abundance of Porphyromonas bacteria, while an increase in Veillonella bacteria was found in both e-cigarette and cigarette users.

Vaping
Using e-cigarettes alters the mouth’s microbiome — the community of bacteria and other microorganisms — and makes users more prone to inflammation and infection, researchers have found. Pixabay

“The predominance of these periodontal pathogens in the mouths of e-cigarette users and traditional smokers is a reflection of compromised periodontal health,” said Li.

The researchers also found that the altered microbiome in e-cigarette users influenced the local host immune environment compared to non-smokers and cigarette smokers. IL-6 and IL1ß — cytokines involved in inflammatory responses — were highly elevated in e-cigarette users. Cell studies also showed upregulation of IL-6 after exposure to e-cigarette aerosols, resulting in an elevated inflammatory response.

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Moreover, e-cigarette aerosols made cells prone to bacterial infection, which points to a greater risk for infection in e-cigarette users, the study said. (IANS)

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Vaping Can Cause Breathing and Swallowing Problems in Teenagers, Says Study

This teenager's use of e-cigarettes is the most plausible reason for this subacute epiglottitis diagnosis

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Vaping
According to the researchers, every throat culture and biopsy result showed no evidence of fungal, bacterial or viral infection, acid-fast bacilli or other malignancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,668 people in the US have been hospitalised for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury, as of Jan 14, 2020. Pixabay

Researchers have revealed that using e-cigarette or vaping may cause breathing and swallowing problem in teenagers.

According to the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, a teenage girl with no hint of prior asthma or respiratory illness began to feel hoarseness in her throat and a feeling that she needed to clear her throat frequently.

Within a few weeks, her hoarseness and throat-clearing worsened with early morning voice loss and feeling as if food were lodged in her throat. She started having trouble swallowing and began to avoid food all together.

Examining her throat, pediatrician confirmed moderate swelling and a partially obstructed airway draped with thick chartreuse-colored mucus. The teen had no history of an autoimmune disorder, no international travel and no exposure to animals. She had no fever and had received all her scheduled immunisations.

But in speaking with doctors at Children’s National Hospital in the US, the teen had admitted to using candy-and fruit-flavoured e-cigarettes three to five times with her friends over the two months preceding her symptoms. The last time she vaped was two weeks before her unusual symptoms began.

“With epiglottitis – an inflammation of the flap found at the base of the tongue that prevents food from entering the trachea – our first concern is that an underlying infection is to blame,” says study author Michael Jason Bozzella.

“This teenager’s use of e-cigarettes is the most plausible reason for this subacute epiglottitis diagnosis, a condition that can become life-threatening,” said Kathleen Ferrer, a hospitalist at Children’s National and the case report’s senior author.

Vaping
Researchers have revealed that using e-cigarette or vaping may cause breathing and swallowing problem in teenagers. Pixabay

“This unusual case adds to a growing list of toxic effects attributable to vaping. While we normally investigate infectious triggers, like Streptococci, Staphylococci and Haemophilus, we and other health care providers should also consider e-cigarettes as we evaluate oro-respiratory complaints,” Ferrer added.

According to the researchers, every throat culture and biopsy result showed no evidence of fungal, bacterial or viral infection, acid-fast bacilli or other malignancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,668 people in the US have been hospitalised for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury, as of Jan 14, 2020.

ALSO READ: Google Maps Unveils New Logo To Mark Journey Of Mapping The World From Past 15 Years

The Children’s National case report’s authors said the increasing use of vaping products by teenagers highlights the potential for unknown health risks to continue to grow. (IANS)