Myths vs. Facts of Using E-cigarettes to Quit Smoking

With increasing scientific studies on the risks of e-cigarettes, Comprehensive Cancer Centers closely monitors news and information in order to share facts beneficial to people’s health. The practice is always looking for new ways to help patients quit smoking, as well as raise awareness about the habit which causes significant health issues including lung cancer, many of which could be prevented by not smoking or quitting the habit.

A recent report shows the use of e-cigarettes to help quit smoking may work for some people, but e-cigarettes also may not be the best solution for many smokers. The study compares the use of e-cigarettes with other common nicotine replacement approaches to help smokers quit. Researchers recruited nearly 900 people who wanted to quit smoking and randomly assigned half to use e-cigarettes and the other half to use other nicotine replacement products, such as nicotine patches and gum. All the study participants received weekly individual counseling for four weeks. After one year, smoking cessation was confirmed by measures of exhaled carbon monoxide, which should be low if you’ve quit but high if you’re still smoking. This is done to make sure data regarding those who have quit, or are still smoking, is accurate and not self-reported.

The findings concluded that e-cigarettes may help some smokers quit, but more than 80 percent of smokers entering the study continued to smoke a year later. Among those assigned to e-cigarettes, 18 percent had stopped smoking, while about 10 percent of those using nicotine replacement therapy had quit. Among successful quitters, 80 percent of those in the e-cigarette group were still using the tobacco products; only 9 percent in the nicotine-replacement group were still using those products.

An important caveat is that e-cigarettes used in the study contained much lower levels of nicotine than found in some common brands used in the United States. The importance of this difference is unclear, but a higher nicotine level could contribute a higher rate of addiction to the e-cigarettes, potentially transitioning cigarette smokers to e-cigarette smokers.

Regular users of other tobacco products, such as cigarettes, most commonly use e-cigarettes in addition to tobacco cigarettes. This pattern is commonly referred to as dual use or poly tobacco use. Among adults who use e-cigarettes, this is a troubling pattern because it suggests that e-cigarettes may be supplementing smoking instead of replacing it. Because there is no safe level of smoking, there are concerns that this behavior represses efforts to completely quit smoking. This issue is complicated because some individuals who use e-cigarettes to quit may experience a period of dual use as they change products.

An additional report from 2018 conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine adds another question to the value of using e-cigarettes for quitting smoking, noting there is “substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases risk of using combustible tobacco cigarettes among youth and young adults,” suggesting that e-cigarette use itself is a risk factor, not just a correlation with smoking.

Don’t Start Smoking and Quit Now if You Smoke

While certain aspects of the data in the report are cautiously promising with regard to using e-cigarettes to stop smoking, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that anyone who starts smoking can simply start using e-cigarettes as an easy way to quit. Quitting smoking is an enormous challenge and the best way to stop smoking is by not ever starting.

According to Dr. James Hsu of Lung Center of Nevada, a division of Comprehensive Cancer Centers, when in doubt, he tells his patients to never ever inhale anything into your lungs.

More Reasons to Not Smoke Cigarettes

Lung cancer is the leading cause of all cancer deaths in the United States and it is estimated that an average of more than 225,000 new cases will be diagnosed each year. More people die from lung cancer than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined, and most people get lung cancer by smoking. Tobacco smoking is by far the leading cause of lung cancer. About 80 percent of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking, and many others are caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.

  • Non-small cell lung cancer: Almost 85 percent of all lung cancer is non-small cell. It can spread quickly and can be found near the bronchus, lung and outer lung.
  • Small cell lung cancer: Nearly 15 percent of all lung cancer is small cell. The cancer cells are found in the bronchi, center of the chest, multiply quickly and form large tumors that spread throughout the body.


Each year, Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada and University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) encourage residents of Southern Nevada and visitors from out-of-state to quit smoking. Each November, Comprehensive places tobacco drop-off bins on the UNLV campuses: the Paradise Campus (851 E. Tropicana Ave., 89119), the Shadow Lane Campus (1001 Shadow Lane, 89106), the Student Union on the Maryland Campus (4505 S. Maryland Parkway, 89154) and at Thomas & Mack Center or Sam Boyd Stadium during events.

At the heart of this campaign is an effort to keep Southern Nevadans from ever having to visit one of our clinics. Our friends at UNLV have taken an admirable step to positively impact the thousands of students and visitors that visit their beautiful campus each day. Together, we’re hoping many in our community choose longevity and their livelihood over an addiction.

Comprehensive Can Help with Lung Cancer Treatment

For those are battling lung cancer, Comprehensive Cancer Centers offers many treatment options for patients including chemotherapy, traditional radiation therapy, Las Vegas CyberKnife® and clinical research. Each method may be used alone or in combination.

Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of cancer treatment as well as cancer genetic counseling for those interested in learning about cancer risk possibilities. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.