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E-cigarette use and associated changes in population smoking cessation: evidence from US current population surveys

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 26 July 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3262

Smoking 'quit attempts' – a meaningless concept

Bruce Baldwin makes a good point. It is misleading to talk of e-cigarettes as a way to stop smoking – they are merely another way of continuing nicotine addiction. E-cigarette users typically suck into their lungs vapourised nicotine together with propylene glycol, glycerine and flavourings many times a day, every day, for years on end. Whether this is safe is unknown.

In this paper it is arbitrary that quit attempts and successful quitting are defined as not smoking for at least twenty-four hours and three months, respectively. Intermittent smokers are still smokers and the concept of a ‘quit attempt’ is meaningless (1). With smoking there are only two states you can be in: either you smoke, or you don’t.

Even with the authors conflating quit attempts with successful quitting, the study showed only an increase in quit rates from 4.5% to 5.6%. That means the vast majority of the study population was still smoking.

If governments are serious about ending the smoking epidemic, they should think about closing down the cigarette factories.


Competing interests: No competing interests

17 August 2017
Gabriel Symonds
General practitioner