London, Feb 4 : Former smokers who quit tobacco within the last five years are likely to use e-cigarettes, while vaping is rare among those who quit more than a decade ago, say researchers.
The findings, published in the journal The BMJ, suggest that today's smokers who want to quit are using e-cigarettes as an aid whereas in the past quitters had to rely on other smoking cessation aids, so few long-standing quitters have tried e-cigarettes.
"Former daily e-cigarette use was positively associated with smoking cessation of 2 or fewer years indicating that some smokers may have quit with e-cigarettes and then quit e-cigarette use too," said the researchers from Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre in Greece.
To gain a better understanding of e-cigarette use by current and former smokers, researchers accessed data on 13,057 people (6904 current and 6153 former smokers) from 28 member states who were interviewed face-to-face about their tobacco and e-cigarette use for a special 2017 Eurobarometer cross-sectional survey.
Eurobarometer surveys are performed regularly at the request of the European Commission to measure population attitudes on different issues in EU member states.
Current daily e-cigarette use was reported by 2.4 per cent of current and 3.3 per cent of former smokers interviewed, while former daily use was reported by 5.6 per cent and 1.9 per cent respectively.
In the 2017 survey, more than half of all former smokers had quit more than 10 years ago and current daily e-cigarette use was rare among this group, at only 0.2 per cent.
Among former smokers, e-cigarette use was most prevalent in those who had quit in the last two years (12.9 per cent) followed by those who had quit between three and five years ago (9 per cent).
E-cigarettes also appeared to be helping smokers quit successfully, as current regular e-cigarette use was associated with being a recent quitter.
Compared with interviewees who had never used e-cigarettes, current e-cigarette users were almost five times more likely to have quit smoking within the last two years and over three times more likely to have quit smoking between three and five years ago.
Current daily e-cigarette use was strongly associated with recent (five or fewer years) smoking cessation in the study of current and former smokers in EU member states, the authors concluded.