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Study: No link found between e-cigarettes and quitting smoking

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

A new study finds that people who use electronic cigarettes are not necessarily more likely to quit smoking. But as is true of most existing research on e-cigarettes, the findings are not conclusive, and are unlikely to settle the debate about the merits of e-cigarette as a smoking cessation device.

As part of a broader survey on smoking habits, researchers at UC San Francisco surveyed 949 smokers, 88 of whom reported also using e-cigarettes. After a year, nine of the e-cigarette users, or about 10 percent, had successfully quit smoking.

That’s slightly worse than the rate of quitting among all the smokers surveyed, which was over 13 percent.

But the findings do come with caveats. The number of e-cigarette users in the sample was small, which limited researchers' ability to draw definitive links between e-cigarette use and smoking cessation. Researchers also did not ask what motivated people to use e-cigarettes.

Still, study co-author Pamela Ling said the fact that no significant link was found between e-cigarette use and smoking cessation is important, given the proliferation of claims by e-cigarette manufacturers that the devices do help smokers quit.

"This suggests that those kinds of advertising claims, which are extremely common, really should be prohibited until there is good scientific evidence to support them," Ling said.

The study was published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.