E-Cigarettes Reduce Tobacco Cravings, Study Finds

2 minute read

E-cigarettes, which contain anywhere from 100 to 1000 times fewer toxic substances than tobacco cigarettes, significantly reduce tobacco cravings, according to a new study.

Hoping to answer to whether e-cigs decreased the urge to smoke tobacco cigarettes or the urge to smoke altogether, researchers at KU Leuven followed 48 smokers who did not plan to quit for eight months. The smokers were split into three groups, two of which could both vape and smoke tobacco cigarettes for the first two months, and the third of which could only smoke tobacco cigarettes.

In the second stage of the study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the third (control) group was given e-cigarettes as well.

Long-term smokers were likely to trade in tobacco cigarettes for e-cigs: 21% stopped smoking tobacco entirely, and an additional 23% cut the number of tobacco cigarettes they smoked per day in half. Across all groups, the number of tobacco cigarettes smoked was cut by 60%.

“With guidance on practical use, the nicotine e-cig offers many smokers a successful alternative for smoking less – or even quitting altogether,” Professor Frank Baeyens, who headed up the study, said in statement. “E-cig users get the experience of smoking a cigarette and inhale nicotine vapor, but do not suffer the damaging effects of a tobacco cigarette.”

Of course, the participants were presumably still hooked on nicotine, the addictive property in both e-cigs and tobacco cigarettes. And since e-cigarettes are still new, robust research has not yet demonstrated what the consequences of smoking them might be compared to other cigarettes.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com