Research highlight: Electronic Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation: Cochrane Living Systematic Review
8 March 2023
Research methods & EBM
Today is National No Smoking Day 2023, and we're delighted to share the research happening across the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, to determine the effects of e-cigarettes to help smokers achieve long‐term abstinence.
Since coming on the market over a decade ago, electronic cigarettes have caused a considerable stir in the public health community. As a relatively new development, they pose many challenges in terms of regulation. It is, therefore, of prime importance that the debate around this issue is based on high quality, relevant and up-to-date scientific data.
Cochrane systematic reviews are recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based healthcare, and with support from Cancer Research UK, Dr Jamie Hartmann-Boyce and Dr Nicola Lindson, are leading a living systematic Cochrane review on electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation: collecting new monthly evidence as it becomes available, bringing together primary research data to facilitate evidence based choices about health interventions.
There is much misinformation circulating about electronic cigarettes, and our review evaluates the safety and effects of using e-cigarettes to help people quit smoking. Since its first publication in 2014, this review has contributed to national and international guidelines. The research examines different areas relating to e-cigarettes, such as whether their flavour impacts their use, how long smokers use them for, and biomarkers of potential harm. For me, the thing that really gets me out of bed every morning when it comes to my research is knowing that it might have an impact and improve health and wellbeing.
For me, the thing that really gets me out of bed in the morning when it comes to my research is knowing that it might have an impact and improve health and wellbeing - Dr Jamie Hartmann-Boyce
IMPORTANCE and Key Findings
We are committed to sharing the evidence with diverse audiences to ensure long-term impact for health care. Having collected information from 78 studies, the data evidence has so far revealed a number of factors affecting smoking cessation with the use of e-cigarettes:
There aren’t many researchers who can put their hand on their heart and say: 'my study is going to save lives by the thousands'. But this is something that Jamie’s research can do. If we get it right, Jamie’s research will save tens of thousands of lives every year. - Martin Dockrell, Office for Health Improvements and Disparity
As one of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine's flagship projects, all information available on this Cochrane living systematic review can be found here, including regularly updated briefing documents, key publications and press coverage. We also have a video of our researchers explaining their work and its impact: Can e-cigarettes help you stop smoking?
In January 2023, Dr Hartmann-Boyce highlighted her work with the UK Government and the Action on Smoking and Health charity to investigate the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a stop-smoking aid, and whether they have lower negative health impacts than smoking. View this video here. In the latest video, researcher, Ailsa Butler, discusses how her research on smoking cessation has helped to shape public policy, with help from the Oxford Policy Engagement Network: Sparking Engagement with Ailsa Butler: Smoking cessation and policy - YouTube
What to read next
E-cigarettes: misconceptions about their dangers may be preventing people from quitting smoking
13 September 2021
When electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) first emerged, they became a popular way for people to quit smoking. But in 2019, a mysterious lung condition emerged that primarily affected young people, particularly those who vaped. This left many questioning the safety of e-cigarettes.