When electronic cigarettes began gaining traction several years ago, they were billed as a way to wean smokers off of traditional cigarettes and cut down on smoking-related health problems. So far, however, that doesn't seem to be happening. According to a new study, e-cigarettes have not made a significant difference in the number of people smoking one way or another, Nature News reports.
The researchers followed around 950 smokers for a year and asked them about their habits and thoughts and attempts to quit. Around 9 percent used e-cigarettes, but they were no more or less likely to quit than smokers who stuck with tobacco. “Advertising suggesting that e-cigarettes are effective for smoking cessation should be prohibited until such claims are supported by scientific evidence,” the researchers told Nature.
Researchers not involved in the new study, however, argue that the sample was biased toward long-term, nicotine-dependent smokers. But others told Nature that e-cigarettes don't contain enough nicotine to be an effective crutch for smokers trying to quit. As Health Day News points out, a random assortment of smokers might be trying e-cigarettes out of curiosity, and designing a study focused on people who are trying to kick their smoking habit could shed more light on whether e-cigarettes are at all helpful meeting that goal.
Although some doctors are optimistic about e-cigarettes, others are saying that they should be as strictly regulated as cigarettes, Nature writes. These doctors tend to fear that e-cigarettes won't cut down on smoking-related disease but will make smoking seem chic and socially acceptable again. However, so far there's really no evidence of that happening yet—not a huge surprise, if you've ever seen someone use one of these contraptions. Somehow, the glamour's just not there.