The Value of Providing Smokers With Free E-Cigarettes

Summary of Study

Bottom Line: Studies show that e-cigarette use facilitates quitting smoking. The provision of e-cigarettes to smokers for at least a period of time, without financial charge, may well be something that public health services should consider. 

The Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England have both indicated the likely benefit of switching to the exclusive use of vaping devices for those smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit smoking combustible tobacco products. The issue that we address within this paper is whether the encouragement and assistance to smokers to switch to non-combustible tobacco products should include the free provision of those products for at least a restricted period of time.

Few studies have investigated the rates of smoking cessation and smoking reduction that are associated with the provision of free e-cigarettes to smokers. In this study, e-cigarettes were given to a sample of adult smokers. After 90 days:

  • The complete abstinence rate was 36.5%, up from 0% at baseline. 
  • The frequency of daily smoking reduced from 88.7% to 17.5%.
  • The median consumption of cigarettes/day reduced from 15 to five.
  • The median number of days per month that participants smoked also reduced from 30 to 13 after 90 days.

On the basis of these results, there may be value in smoking cessation services and other services ensuring that smokers are provided with e-cigarettes at zero or minimal costs for at least a short period of time.

The study shows that use of e-cigarettes supported smokers’ efforts in quitting and reducing smoking over a 90-day period. The abstinence levels increased from baseline to day 30, and continued to rise throughout the study duration (90 days). The finding suggests that the use of vaping may have additional benefits with longer use—i.e., a proportion of smokers quit smoking within the first month of use, but a larger proportion needed more than two months to make the switch, and gradually quit over a longer period.

Read the full report here.

Feature Charticle

E-Cigarettes Caused 36.5% of Smokers to QuitCentre for Substance Use Research

• After 90 days using a free e-cigarette, 36.5% of users had quit smoking
• The frequency of daily smoking reduced from 88.7% to 17.5%.
• The median consumption of cigarettes/day reduced from 15 to five.