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Though the popularity of electronic cigarettes is growing, they may serve no purpose, if a new study is to be believed.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California in San Francisco, US, stated that using an e-cigarette would not make a regular smoker any more likely to quit, than if they were using an actual one. Hence, as a tool, it was not very effective.
E-cigarettes are metallic tubes which enable the conversion of liquid nicotine to a flavored inhalable vapor without the use of combustion. Their claim of getting a smoker to quit has made them popular. Many users like the fact that there is no smoke and thus it can be used in designated non-smoking areas. However, public health officials have been doubtful of the e-cigarette’s claims.
The small study focused on a group of 949 regular smokers, which consisted of 88 people who used e-cigarettes. For the baseline survey, they were asked if they had used e-cigarettes in the past month, and how many cigarettes they consumed in a day. Most of the 949 said that they were aiming to quit in the next six months, or after that. However, those using e-cigarettes were more vocal about their quitting plans.
When participants were studied the next year, and asked if they had quit, the rates of kicking the habit were not very different. While 10.2 per cent of the e-cigarette smokers said they had quit smoking, 13.8 per cent of the regular cigarette smokers did. The researchers thus found that e-cigarette smokers were not any less likely to quit the habit one year later than people who resorted to regular cigarettes.
Though the researchers do acknowledge that the study was small, it did add to the previous research on the ineffectiveness of e-cigarettes as quitting devices. Besides, many of the claims made by e-cigarettes were based on negligible data.
The researchers suggested that there should be regulations that prevented e-cigarette companies from claiming the same. This was because e-cigarettes were unregulated, and its consumers are unaware of how much nicotine goes into their bodies for lack of scientific evidence.
The study also found that women were more likely to use electronic cigarettes as compared to men. They were also mostly used by people under the age of 30. Its ready availability could lead to the formation of a new younger class of smokers.
The study overlooked the reason why the 88 smokers used e-cigarettes, and did not ask them how long they used them for. The problems in the study were also clear to its authors, who also spoke about the limitations.

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