September 7, 2013 / NBCNews.com / — Electronic cigarettes work about as well as nicotine patches in helping smokers kick the habit, researchers report. And e-cigarettes helped people smoke fewer cigarettes overall, even if they didn’t quit completely.
The study is the first major piece of research to show that the products, which deliver a nicotine mist using a cigarette-shaped pipe, can actually benefit smokers.
The findings, published in the Lancet medical journal, are not quite enough to make public health experts embrace e-cigarettes, which are not yet regulated and which are growing in popularity. But it’s enough to make them look more closely at whether there may be some benefit to them.
“You’re trading one addiction for another addiction,” Dr. Cheryl Healton, president and CEO of the anti-tobacco Legacy Foundation, told NBC News. “(But) it may be that for some people, this will be a better way to quit, and there may be people who’ve tried other things and haven’t been able to quit who will quit with this.”