Researchers from University College London estimate that use of e-cigarettes produced 16K-22K additional long-term quitters in England in 2014.1 A long-term quitter is someone who has not smoked for at least one year.
The UCL team has been tracking the rapid rise in use of e-cigarettes using monthly national surveys and estimates that in 2014 almost 900,000 smokers used one of these products to try to quit (see "Electronic cigarettes in England - latest trends" (ref STS140122) at http://www.smokinginengland.info/latest-statistics/).
Previous research has found that when used in this way, e-cigarettes increase the chances of success by around 50% compared with using no support or one of the traditional nicotine products such as gum or skin patch bought from a shop.2,3 This raises the long-term success rates from around 5% to around 7½%. The increased success rate amounts to an additional 22K people stopping who would otherwise have continued smoking. Some of these people may have used an e-cigarette instead of one of the more established aids to cessation such as the Stop-Smoking Services. Adjusting for this, the number helped by e-cigarettes may be somewhat lower, at 16K.
Professor Robert West, who led the research team, said "E-cigarettes appear to be helping a significant number of smokers to stop who would not have done otherwise - not as many as some e-cigarette enthusiasts claim, but a substantial number nonetheless."
Professor West added, "There have been claims by some public health researchers that e-cigarettes undermine quitting if smokers use them just to cut down, and that they act as a gateway into smoking. These claims stem from a misunderstanding of what the evidence can tell us at this stage, but this is clearly something we need to watch carefully."