Vaping more effective than nicotine replacement therapy, major study finds

Nicotine vaporisers (e-cigarettes) are almost twice as effective as nicotine replacement therapy at helping smokers to quit, according to a game-changing study of nearly 900 smokers in the UK.

The randomised controlled trial found that 18% of those using a nicotine-vaporiser were smoke-free after one year, compared to 9.9% of those who used other nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and gum (NRT).

According to Conjoint Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn, Chairman of the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association, this is a ground-breaking study which confirms that vaping is an effective quitting aid.

‘This study provides the robust evidence that we have been waiting for’ Dr Mendelsohn said. ‘Past vaping studies have used early model devices with low nicotine delivery and results have been modest. This study provides clear evidence that vaping with a modern, refillable device and a choice of nicotine e-liquids is effective and can be legitimately added to the range of treatments to help smokers quit.’

‘Compared to NRT, participants found vaping more satisfying, more effective at preventing urges to smoke and relapse and better at relieving withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and concentration.

Eighty percent of those who quit were still using their vaporiser after 12 months. ‘It is much better to continue vaping long-term to avoid relapse to smoking’, Dr Mendelsohn said ‘Vaping is not risk-free, but it is far less harmful than smoking.’

According to Dr Joe Kosterich, general practitioner and Board member of ATHRA, smokers should now feel confident to try vaping if other methods have failed.

‘This study shows that vaping is significantly more effective than nicotine replacement therapy. NRT users could choose from a full range of products and 90% used combination therapy, which means using a patch as well as a gum, lozenge or other quick acting product.’

‘Smokers who have tried conventional treatments and who have not been able to quit should visit their GP for a nicotine prescription and a vape shop for personalised advice Dr Kosterich said. ‘Different treatments work for different people and vaping clearly helps some smokers to quit.’

‘Smokers who switch to vaping can expect to have substantial improvements in their health. For many this will be life-saving.’

It is legal to use nicotine for vaping in Australia if the user gets a nicotine-prescription from a doctor.

*All participants were provided with four counselling sessions, and abstinence was confirmed with a biochemical test.


‘A randomised trial of e-cigarettes versus nicotine replacement therapy’. Peter Hajek, PhD, Anna Phillips-Waller, BSc, Dunja Przulj, PhD, Francesca Pesola, PhD, Katie Myers Smith, DPsych, Natalie Bisal, MSc, Jinshuo Li, MPhil, Steve Parrott, MSc, Peter Sasieni, PhD, Lynne Dawkins, PhD, Louise. Ross, Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD, Qi Wu, MSc, Hayden James McRobbie, PhD. New England Journal of Medicine. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1808779


Conjoint Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn
Tobacco treatment specialist
Chairman, Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association
M: 0415 976 783 | E:

Dr Joe Kosterich
General practitioner
Board member, Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association
M: 0417 998 697 | E:

What is ATHRA?

Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA) is a registered health promotion charity established to reduce the harm from tobacco smoking in Australia. ATHRA aims to raise awareness of less harmful alternatives for adult smokers who are otherwise unable to quit. ATHRA’s broader goal is to encourage the complete cessation of tobacco smoking in Australia. For more information, visit

ATHRA is funded by unconditional donations from businesses and the general public. It does not accept donations from tobacco companies or their subsidiaries.

None of the directors has ever had any financial or commercial relationship with any electronic cigarette or tobacco company.

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