Individuals who have stopped smoking cigarettes in exchange for a vape are less likely to conquer their addiction compared to those who quit without any tobacco help, a new study suggests.

The idea that electronic cigarettes help people to permanently stop smoking has been discredited by a team of scientists from the University of California.

Vapers are around eight per cent more likely to relapse back to cigarettes in comparison to smokers who quit without a tobacco replacement, the study reports.

Previous research has found that vapes do help people quit smoking, however, this study has identified that e-cigarettes only help individuals to temporarily stop smoking.

Chief author, Professor John P. Pierce said: “Our findings suggest that individuals who quit smoking and switched to e-cigarettes or other tobacco products actually increased their risk of a relapse back to smoking over the next year by 8.5 percentage points compared to those who quit using all tobacco products.

“Quitting is the most important thing a smoker can do to improve their health, but the evidence indicates that switching to e-cigarettes made it less likely, not more likely, to stay off of cigarettes.”

The team of academics assessed the medical data of more than 13,000 people who have tried to quit smoking.

Over a two-year period, each participant filled in two follow up questionnaires about their smoking habits.

During the first assessment, less than 10 per cent of the group had stopped smoking, with 37.1 per cent of the ‘former smokers’ now using another form of tobacco, such as electronic cigarettes.

During the second check-up, the scientists found that those who exchanged cigarettes for a vape were 8.5 per cent more likely to relapse compared to those who quit without a tobacco substitute.

Additionally, the results revealed that it is more common for vapers to try to stop smoking again in the future compared to those who did not use a nicotine alternative to quit smoking.

Researcher Dr Professor Karen Messer said: “Our goal in this study was to assess whether recent former smokers who had switched to e-cigarettes or another tobacco product were less likely to relapse to cigarette smoking compared to those who remained tobacco free.”

Professor Pierce added: “This is the first study to take a deep look at whether switching to a less harmful nicotine source can be maintained over time without relapsing to cigarette smoking.

“If switching to e-cigarettes was a viable way to quit cigarette smoking, then those who switched to e-cigarettes should have much lower relapse rates to cigarette smoking. We found no evidence of this.”

The study has been published in the online issue of Jama Network Open.

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