Recently, I attended a forum on e-cigarettes, sponsored by a political organization that wanted to educate its attendees about the devices. During the discussion, my opponent (from the prohibitionist American Legacy Foundation) repeated the baseless claim that there is no evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers quit.

I responded that there is clear evidence: several clinical studies demonstrate that e-cigs work – previously discussed on my blog here, here, here and here.

The clinical trial evidence has reached a sufficient size that a meta-analysis has been conducted. Circulation, the flagship journal of the American Heart Association, contained the abstract of such a review presented by University of Melbourne (Australia) investigators at a recent meeting. They found that:

Use of…e-cigarettes was positively associated with smoking cessation…Nicotine filled e-cigarettes were more effective in achieving cessation compared to those without nicotine (pooled Risk Ratio 2.29, 95%CI 1.05-4.97). Use of e-cigarettes was also effective in reducing smokers’ daily cigarette consumption…In conclusion, available literature suggests that the use of e-cigarettes may be an effective alternate smoking cessation method.

After my response, one of the attendees at our forum stated that he had quit smoking using e-cigs, and he had also convinced two of his relatives to quit. As he noted, “”it may not be a clinical trial, but it is real evidence.”

This doesn’t happen just at every event I attend. It happens in virtually every conversation I have. Almost everybody now knows former smokers who credit e-cigarettes with life- and breath-saving benefits. The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association maintains a webpage linking to more than 2,000 testimonials from successful switchers.

Cartoonist Bill Watterson said: “It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept.” Anti-tobacco zealots who refuse to acknowledge the new reality of e-cigarettes also qualify for membership in the Flat Earth Society.

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