A study out today in the British medical journal The Lancet followed several hundred smokers in New Zealand for a period of two years and concluded that e-cigarettes, small tubes that heat up liquid nicotine and deliver it in a puff of water vapor and sometimes flavoring, were just as effective as nicotine patches in getting people to stay off cigs.
E-cigarettes are growing in popularity in the U.S., where they are permitted indoors in many places where smoking is banned. They can be sold without proof of age, even online. They’ve even been able to advertise on television, whereas plain old cancer sticks have been banned from TV since the 1970s.
But until now the e-cigarettes have largely avoided making specific health claims, so as not to open themselves up to further scrutiny by the FDA. This study, funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand, may be the beginning of a change. However, there was one weakness in the study design: Researchers noted that so few of the research subjects–less than 10% overall–were able to quit for good, and therefore the study had insufficient “statistical power” to truly indicate whether e-cigarettes were really superior to nicotine patches.
[image: Flickr user Thirteen of Clubs]