A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reports high rates of smoking cessation at one-year follow-up among smokers visiting a vape shop for the first time. The study was conducted in Catania by Dr. Riccardo Polosa and colleagues.
Smokers who were first time visitors to one of seven vape shops in Catania were followed for one year to determine their smoking status after their first vape shop purchases. A total of 71 smokers were recruited into the study.
The follow-up rate was 69%. Those lost to follow-up were assumed to be continuing smokers. The researchers report the proportion of smokers who had quit smoking or reduced substantially (by 80% or more) at the one-year follow-up.
The quit rate at one-year follow-up was 40.8%. The proportion of heavy reducers at one-year follow-up was 15.5%. Thus, the combined proportion of quitters and heavy reducers was 56.3%. An additional 10% of smokers reduced their cigarette consumption by at least 50%. Just more than one-third of the smokers were considered to be "treatment failures."
The authors conclude that "smokers purchasing e-cigarettes from vape shops with professional advice and support can achieve high success rates.
The Rest of the Story
This is the first study I am aware of that specifically examines the effectiveness of the types of vaping devices sold at vape shops. The study is not only measuring the effectiveness of the device type but also the potential benefits of the social and technical support provided by vape shops. The sample is biased because it is self-selected: the smokers were motivated enough to seek out and visit a vape shop. Nevertheless, this study reports very high rates of smoking cessation under these conditions.
To be clear, the results of this study are not relevant to the overall effectiveness of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation. However, the study does suggest that for a subset of smokers who are highly motivated to quit and who visit vape shops to purchase e-cigarettes, a very high rate of smoking cessation can potentially be achieved.
This study adds to the growing body of evidence that among a subset of smokers, electronic cigarettes can be quite effective for achieving smoking cessation or substantial reduction in cigarette consumption. The study also suggests that the types of devices available at vape shops and/or the support and assistance provided at these shops may enhance the chances of quitting success.
Unfortunately, despite the great promise of vape shops for enhancing smoking cessation, the proposed FDA deeming regulations would essentially shut down the tens of thousands of vape shops in the United States. These are small businesses that generally do not have the resources necessary to conduct the research and prepare the applications that would be required by the FDA in order to keep their products on the market. Unless the FDA makes drastic changes before promulgating its final regulations, the potential promise of vape shops in enhancing smoking cessation will not be realized.