Lamberto Manzoli, Maria Elena Flacco1, Margherita Ferrante, Carlo La Vecchia, Roberta Siliquini, Walter Ricciardi, Carolina Marzuillo, Paolo Villari, Maria Fiore the ISLESE Working Group
British Medical Journal (BMJ)
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Objective To evaluate the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes, by comparing users of only e-cigarettes, smokers of only tobacco cigarettes and dual users.
Design Prospective cohort study. We update previous 12-month findings and report the results of the 24-month follow-up.
Data sources Direct contact and questionnaires by phone or via internet.
Methods Adults (30–75 years) were classified as: (1) tobacco smokers, if they smoked ≥1 tobacco cigarette/day, (2) e-cigarette users, if they inhaled ≥50 puffs/week of any type of e-cigarette and (3) dual users, if they smoked tobacco cigarettes and also used e-cigarettes. Carbon monoxide levels were tested in 50% of those declaring tobacco smoking abstinence. Hospital discharge data were used to validate possibly related serious adverse events in 46.0% of the sample.
Main outcome measures Sustained abstinence from tobacco cigarettes and/or e-cigarettes after 24 months, the difference in the number of tobacco cigarettes smoked daily between baseline and 24 months, possibly related serious adverse events.
Results Data at 24 months were available for 229 e-cigarette users, 480 tobacco smokers and 223 dual users (overall response rate 68.8%). Of the e-cigarette users, 61.1% remained abstinent from tobacco (while 23.1% and 26.0% of tobacco-only smokers and dual users achieved tobacco abstinence). The rate (18.8%) of stopping use of either product (tobacco and/or e-cigarettes) was not higher for e-cigarette users compared with tobacco smokers or dual users. Self-rated health and adverse events were similar between all groups. Among those continuing to smoke, there were no differences in the proportion of participants reducing tobacco cigarette consumption by 50% or more, the average daily number of cigarettes and the average self-rated health by baseline group. Most dual users at baseline abandoned e-cigarettes and continued to smoke tobacco. Those who continued dual using or converted from tobacco smoking to dual use during follow-up experienced significant improvements in the 3 outcomes compared with those who continued or switched to only smoking tobacco (p<0.001).
Conclusions E-cigarette use alone might support tobacco quitters remaining abstinent from smoking. However, dual use did not improve the likelihood of quitting tobacco or e-cigarette use, but may be helpful to reduce tobacco consumption. Adverse event data were scarce and must be considered preliminary.