E-ciggies help 45% smokers quit

2009-08-07 10:16

Cape Town - Forty-five percent of South African smokers who used e-cigarettes were able to quit tobacco smoking within two months, a new SA study shows.

In the first local medical study on the efficiency of electronic cigarettes to help smokers kick the habit, a team of doctors supplied 349 patients with Twisp electronic cigarettes, over a period of eight weeks.

Of Dutch origin, the Twisp e-cigarette is an electronic device that delivers nicotine through vapour but without the tar, carcinogens or smoke found in standard cigarettes.

All participating doctors agreed that e-cigarettes are a significantly more healthy alternative to conventional smoking. 

The study's outcome revealed that:

 - 6%  of smokers quit within two weeks increasing to 45% within eight weeks.

 - 52% of all patients reported both increased levels of energy and visible improvement in their physical  appearance

 - When asked what factors about smoking tobacco cigarettes were the hardest to give up, 49% of patients said nicotine cravings and 24% the habit itself.  Twenty-seven percent of all participating smokers said that a combination of all factors (the habit, nicotine, the taste and feeling of smoking) made it hard to quit.

 - When asked if an e-cigarette could act as an agent to overcome all the physical and psychological challenges to quit tobacco smoking, all doctors said "yes".


Dr Clifford Hulley, one of the participating medical professionals in the survey, reported that "an e-cigarette is the most effective treatment method on the market for quitting tobacco smoking".
Prof Martin Veller, Head Vascular Surgeon at the University of the Witwatersrand, who also participated in the project, added that e-cigarettes have the appearance of normal tobacco cigarettes but are non-toxic.

"Motivated by my wife's experience, who smoked traditional cigarettes heavily until the moment she replaced them with electronic cigarettes, I have advised my patients to consider e-cigarettes as an alternative nicotine source."

According to Dr Kishore Deva, a Pretoria doctor who quit smoking using Twisp over a six week period, "around 10 to 15 Twisp puffs are equivalent to the same amount of nicotine delivered by a tobacco cigarette". 

He added that the nicotine, present in e-cigarettes, is not responsible for the health risks that tobacco cigarettes hold.


Earlier this year Health New Zealand carried out trials into the safety of e-cigarettes.  According to the head of research Dr Murray Laugeson, the test found that e-cigarettes were very safe relative to cigarettes, and also safe in absolute terms on all measurements.

"Using micro-electronics, an e-cigrarette vaporises, separately for each puff, very small quantities of nicotine dissolved in propylene glycol, two small well-known molecules with excellent safety profiles, into a fine aerosol. 

"Each puff contains one third to one half the nicotine in a tobacco cigarette's puff. The cartridge liquid is tobacco-free and no combustion occurs."

According to Matt Salmon, president of  the Electronic Cigarette Association (Eca) in the USA,  available data indicates that electronic cigarettes reduce the risk of illness and death to under 1% of the risk posed  by tobacco cigarettes "which are responsible for 400 000 deaths per year in the US - more than Aids, drugs, homicides, fires and auto accidents combined".