More than six million smokers in the European Union have quit smoking and more than 9 million have reduced smoking consumption with the use of electronic cigarettes, according to a study published today in Addiction. Scientists from the University of Patras-Greece, Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre-Greece and the French National Research Institute for Health and Medical Research analyzed the data from the 2014 Eurobarometer on smoking and the use of the electronic cigarettes. According to the study findings, 48.5 million Europeans have ever tried electronic cigarettes, but 7.5 million are current users. Among current users, 35.1% have quit smoking while an additional 32.2% have reduced smoking consumption.
“These are probably the highest rates of smoking cessation and reduction ever observed in such a large population study,” said principal investigator of the study Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos. “The European Union data show that the use of electronic cigarettes seems to have a positive impact on public health for two main reasons: 1. High smoking cessation and reduction rates are observed, and 2. Electronic cigarette use is largely confined to smokers (current and former), with minimal use by non-smokers.”
There is a lot of controversy over the use of the electronic cigarettes by non-smokers, but researchers appear reassuring. Jacques Le Houezec, a neuroscientist and researcher at the French National Research Institute for Health and Medical Research, said: “In non-smokers we observed some experimentation with electronic cigarettes, but regular use is minimal. Just 1.3% of non-smokers reported current use of nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes and 0.09% reported daily use. Practically, there is no current or regular use of nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes by non-smokers, so the concern that electronic cigarettes can be a gateway to smoking is largely rejected by our findings.”
Professor Konstantinos Poulas mentioned the importance of the Eurobarometer survey in assessing electronic cigarette use in the European Union. “The questionnaire of the Eurobarometer is probably one of the most detailed ever used in analyzing electronic cigarette use on a population level. It provides detailed information about the frequency of use, differentiates experimentation from regular use and examines the use of nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes. Moreover, the survey enrolled a large sample of Europeans which was representative of the total EU population. A similar design should be used in all population studies. ”
Eurobarometer is a survey performed by the European Commission, assessing, among others, smoking and electronic cigarette use patterns in all 28 member states of the European Union.
Farsalinos KE, Poulas K, Voudris V, Le Houezec J. Electronic cigarette use in the European Union: analysis of a representative sample 2 of 27 460 Europeans from 28 countries. Addiction 2016.