More than 650 people from the Auckland region are participating in the study that will compare e-cigarettes with the more commonly used nicotine patches.
The study that began in 2011, aims to evaluate how effective 16gm nicotine e-cigarettes are for helping people to quit smoking, how acceptable they are to people, and whether there are any adverse effects. These are compared to nicotine patches and placebo e-cigarettes that have no nicotine.
E-cigarettes are electrically powered devices similar in appearance to a traditional cigarette. They work by vapourising liquid nicotine, delivering a mist to the airways of users when they draw on the mouthpiece. Essentially the e-cigarette is delivering a nicotine hit, but with none of the toxins present in traditional tobacco cigarettes.
“This study is a world first,” says Associate Professor Chris Bullen from the National Institute for Health Innovation at The University of Auckland.
“Although people have reported using e-cigarettes to help quit smoking, and studies on their effects on tobacco withdrawal and craving suggest good potential as smoking cessation aids, to date there have been no adequately powered randomised trials investigating their efficacy for quitting tobacco.”
The trial will inform international debate and policy on the regulation and availability of e-cigarettes, says Associate Professor Bullen.
“If shown to be effective, these devices could help many smokers as a safer alternative to tobacco smoking, and an alternative smoking cessation aid to the standard nicotine replacement products such as patches or gum,” he says.
Results from the study will be available in September.
E-cigarettes containing nicotine have been banned in some countries. In New Zealand, e-cigarettes without nicotine are available for sale, but those with nicotine are classified as medicines and are not allowed to be sold without approval by MedSafe.
The University of Auckland