(CNN)People using e-cigarettes to quit smoking found them to be less helpful than more traditional smoking cessations aids, a new study found.
The study, published Monday in the journal BMJ, analyzed the latest 2017 to 2019 data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study, which follows tobacco use among Americans over time.
"This is the first time we found e-cigarettes to be less popular than FDA-approved pharmaceutical aids, such as medications or the use of patches, gum, or lozenges," said John P. Pierce, the director for population sciences at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego.
"E-cigarettes were also associated with less successful quitting during that time frame," said Pierce, a professor emeritus of family medicine and public health. In fact, nearly 60% of recent former smokers who were daily e-cigarette users had resumed smoking by 2019, the new study found.
"There's no evidence that the use of e-cigarettes is an effective cessation aid," Pierce said.
A three-month randomized trial in the United Kingdom, published in 2019, found e-cigarettes, along with behavioral interventions, did help smokers quit tobacco cigarettes. In guidance published in late 2021, the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence decided to recommend that smokers use e-cigarettes to help them quit.
However, observational studies in the United States that study smoking in real-world environments have not found that to be true, Pierce said. A 2021 study by his team found people who quit smoking tobacco cigarettes between 2013 and 2016 by switching to e-cigs or other tobacco products were 8.5% more likely to resume smoking when compared with people who quit all tobacco products.
Uptick in use by teens
Proponents of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool say higher-nicotine versions should assist tobacco cigarette smokers to quit tobacco cigarettes because they would be able to take fewer puffs off a vape than smoking the entire cigarette, Pierce said.
"In 2017, cigarette sales increased by 40%," with a majority of the market share being held by new brands of e-cigarettes with very high nicotine levels, he said.