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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Are E-Cigarettes Safe and Effective for Smoking Cessation?

Are e-cigarettes effective smoking cessation devices? According to a panel of experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, there is not enough evidence to indicate whether e-cigarettes are safe or effective for smoking cessation, Reuters reports. Insurance companies typically use U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations to determine if they will compensate for screenings and treatments.

E-cigarettes are still in their infancy, which means that the amount of research currently available is limited. Experts have mixed opinions about e-cigarettes. While many will argue that electronic nicotine devices are safer than traditional nicotine products, there is not much evidence indicating that e-cigarettes are effective for smoking cessation.

“There is not enough evidence to evaluate the effectiveness, safety or benefits and harms of using e-cigarettes to help people quit smoking,” said Dr. Francisco Garcia, a task force member and researcher at the University of Arizona. 

At the moment, experts believe that current smoking cessation products when used in conjunction with behavioral therapy, has shown the most promise when it comes to quitting, according to the article. Nicotine replacement therapy (i.e. patches, gums, and lozenges) and the medications Chantix ® (varenicline) and Zyban ® (bupropion SR) are the currently FDA approved smoking cessation products.

“The task force recommends that clinicians direct patients who smoke tobacco to other cessation interventions with established effectiveness and safety,” Garcia said by email. “Many studies show that combinations of behavioral interventions or pharmacotherapies can help the most.” 

The task force recommendations are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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