LONDON: The fierce debate over whether e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking took another twist on Monday as a research paper on their use by cancer patients was criticized as flawed.
The study of cancer patients who smoke found that those using e-cigarettes as well as tobacco cigarettes were more nicotine dependent and equally or less likely to have quit than those who didn’t use e-cigarettes.
The scientists behind the research, which was published online in Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society, said their results raised doubts about whether e-cigarettes had any benefit in helping cancer patients to give up smoking.
But that conclusion was questioned by other tobacco and addiction researchers, who said the selection of patients for the study had given it an inherent bias.
The uptake of e-cigarettes, which use battery-powered cartridges to produce a nicotine-laced vapor for the “smoker” to inhale, has rocketed in the past two years, but there is fierce debate about their potential risks and benefits.
Because they are new, there is a lack of long-term scientific evidence on their safety.
Some experts fear they could lead to nicotine addiction and be a gateway to tobacco smoking, while others say they have enormous potential to help millions of smokers around the world to quit.