A huge survey of more than 19,000 dedicated electronic cigarette users - mostly users of rechargeable units or mods - confirms that concerns about the health effects of smoking and a desire to quit smoking or cut down substantially on the amount smoked are the primary reasons for vaping among this population.
(See: Farsalinos KE, et al. Characteristics, Perceived Side Effects and Benefits of Electronic Cigarette Use: A Worldwide Survey of More than 19,000 Consumers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2014, 11, 4356-4373; doi:10.3390/ijerph110404356.)
The study confirms that a huge number of people - at least 16,000 have successfully quit smoking using electronic cigarettes and among dedicated e-cigarette users who are not able to quit smoking completely, the reduction in cigarette consumption is dramatic: from an average of 20 cigarettes per day down to just 4 cigarettes per day.
The study concludes as follows: "The results of this worldwide survey of dedicated users indicate that ECs are mostly used to avoid the harm associated with smoking. They can be effective even in highly-dependent smokers and are used as long-term substitutes for smoking. High levels of nicotine are used at initiation; subsequently, users try to reduce nicotine consumption, with only a small minority using non-nicotine liquids. Side effects are minor and health benefits are substantial, especially for those who completely substitute smoking with EC use. Further population and interventional studies are warranted."
The Rest of the Story
Because this study is based on recruitment of e-cigarette users from online vaping forums, the results must be interpreted cautiously. This is not a representative sample of smokers who try electronic cigarettes. Instead, it is a selective sample of dedicated electronic cigarette users. Thus, the proportion of respondents who succeeded in quitting is not relevant to the general population of smokers who try to quit using electronic cigarettes.
Nevertheless, the study does provide valid data about the patterns of use of cigarettes and reasons for use of e-cigarettes among this particular population of highly dedicated vapers. Perhaps the most important finding is that huge numbers of ex-smokers succeeded in quitting and are keeping themselves off cigarettes by vaping. Second, huge numbers of smokers have succeeded in drastically reducing their cigarette consumption and lowering their addiction level by using these products. Third, the overwhelming stimulus for use of these products is the concern about the health effects of tobacco cigarettes and the desire to quit or cut down substantially. Finally, huge numbers of smokers who switched to electronic cigarettes have experienced dramatic acute improvements in their health.
Based on these results, I do not believe it is reasonable for anti-smoking advocates to continue to argue that electronic cigarettes have not been shown to help with smoking cessation. The results of this study make it clear that for many thousands of people, electronic cigarettes are an effective smoking cessation aid.