Study shows more guidance needed for smokers using e-cigarettes


Smokers were generally negative in their reaction towards e-cigarettes, possibly due to the widely documented uncertainties about safety and effectiveness

Researchers at the University of Liverpool have shown that more than half of smokers using the Stop Smoking Service on Merseyside have tried electronic cigarettes, despite many reporting uncertainty about their safety and effectiveness.

The study highlighted that users of products not available through official services, should be encouraged to seek reliable information and guidance about interventions they are using to stop smoking.


Researchers quizzed more than 320 smokers from the Roy Castle ‘FagEnds’ study to understand what smokers thought about the e-cigarettes and how many people were using them over more traditional products offered by ‘stop smoking’ services.

Better education

Despite more than half of participants using e-cigarettes, smokers were generally negative in their reaction towards them, possibly due to the widely documented uncertainties about safety and effectiveness in helping smokers to successfully break their addiction.

Some also viewed using e-cigarettes as an extension of smoking and perceived them as an inferior tool for helping to quit smoking.  Additionally, some participants were misinformed of or misunderstood the risks associated with e-cigarettes.

Frances Sherratt, from the University’s Institute of Translational Medicine, said: “Our results show that electronic cigarettes are commonly used by smokers wanting to quit and seek help through the Stop Smoking Services.

“This study highlights the need for better education regarding e-cigarettes, to enable smokers to make balanced, informed smoking cessation treatment decisions to help them quit.”

Aid to quitting

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation who helped fund the research, said: “While the research suggests that a high proportion of smokers try e-cigarettes as an aid to quitting, it also shows that many recognise their effectiveness is limited compared to more conventional, proven techniques.

“Lingering issues around their safety and long-term health impact also continue to affect public opinion. People are more likely to be successful with the tailored, one-to-one support of a quit smoking professional and this seems to have been understood by the majority of those surveyed.”

Dr Karen Kennedy, director of the National Cancer Research Institute, said: “This research provides an interesting insight into how many, and why, smokers use e-cigarettes. Tobacco is the single biggest cause of preventable cancer deaths, so understanding how smokers can be better helped in breaking the addiction is extremely valuable in reducing cancer deaths.”

The research, presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference, is supported by Liverpool Primary Care Trust / Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.


3 thoughts on “Study shows more guidance needed for smokers using e-cigarettes

  1. Frances Sherratt

    Hi Joy

    I’m really glad to hear that you were able to quit smoking with the vaping device and I’ve spoken to a number of people who have had similar experiences to yourself whereby they have tried other approaches and e-cigs worked for them.

    Our study was funded by Liverpool CCG rather than a pharmaceutical company and we aimed to understand e-cig use and attitudes towards them within a Stop Smoking Service, at a time when e-cig use has sharply increased but the public are receiving mixed messages from the media about them, amongst other sources.

    Although e-cig use was high in Stop Smoking Services, we found that of the interviews we undertook, there was a lot of uncertainty and some negativity towards them, but also some misinterpretations e.g. one lady believed there to be tar in e-cigs. The study highlights the importance of regulation but also the importance of better education around e-cigs because as you say, the sources of information from which people are getting information are not always balanced, such as the media. Balanced, accurate and up-to-date information will enable smokers to make more informed decisions for their smoking cessation treatment.

    1. Joy Longshaw

      Splendid. That’s what everyone wants, balanced, accurate and up to date information. The only problems I have is what flavour liquid shall I vape!

  2. Joy Longshaw

    I have used an e cigarette… though I prefer the term Personal Vaping Device myself… for over twelve months and have successfully not smoked a cigarette for almost nine months. I have found lots of help and very sensible and honest advice from the many forums and sites online. I really feel more impartial study should be carried out as I believe a great deal of negative comment comes from drug manufacturers (who are losing money as more people are trying vaping instead of standard nicotine replacement treatments), and the tobacco industry. My other half and I make our own e liquids using safe, British sourced materials and we firmly believe that we’ll never go back to tobacco. Vaping should not be demonised and any negative stories (e cigs exploding, people starting fires etc.), should be researched thoroughly. How many people buy cheap imports? How many people started fires with a normal cigarette? I tried many standard smoking cessation treatments (complete with personal programme), and none of them worked. Vaping has worked for me and I shall continue to vape and be a staunch supporter of vaping.

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