Ending Tobacco use in 2015: Time for Innovation to Save Lives

By Elle Alexander

With the arrival of the New Year, many smokers will commit to quitting tobacco use. Research shows 70% of smokers want to quit, but success is difficult and only about 4% to 7% of smokers are able to achieve this goal without help. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and medications have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as cessation aids, and many believe that e-cigarettes have great potential to further reduce the harm of tobacco use. While e-cigarettes are a relatively new innovation and research to determine tobacco cessation effectiveness is still underway, the Cochrane Collaboration recently released a review finding that using e-cigarettes with nicotine increased the chances of quitting tobacco long-term compared to using e-cigarettes without nicotine. In addition, a recent study found that intensive e-cigarette users were six times more likely to quit compared to non-users or triers.

Vitality has partnered with the University of Pennsylvania to better understand how to help employees quit smoking in the workplace. The team has launched a study that builds on Penn’s previous work using behavioral economics including incentives to promote cessation. The study addresses key public health questions around tobacco cessation using behavioral economic principles including opt-out enrollment, incentives and cessation aid support.

The study launches this month (January 2015) and will include 6,000 US smokers.  We hope to make an impact on the nearly 6 million global deaths from tobacco and will publish the findings. Now is the time to increase our efforts to understand how behavioral economics and technology can help smokers quit, thereby improving health and saving lives.

The Vitality Institute reports on tobacco cessation research in our social media postings. To keep up to date on smoking cessation research updates, follow @VitalityInst on Twitter.

Have you tried quitting? Did e-cigarettes help? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


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