An ongoing trial of 657 smokers in New Zealand is pitting e-cigs against nicotine patches. The first large randomized controlled trial to compare the products, it will also provide some of the first information about e-cigs’ side effects, says Chris Bullen, who’s heading up the trial at the country’s National Institute for Health Innovation. He expects to report findings by September.
Meanwhile, England-based firm CN Creative is leading the charge to sell e-cigs as a lifesaving medicine. It is preparing to submit its next-generation e-cig, Nicadex, to U.K. regulatory authorities for approval. If it passes muster, it would be the first e-cig available as a prescription nicotine replacement therapy. The company would then submit Nicadex to the FDA for approval.
Despite the optimism surrounding e-cigarette results, for many successfully kicking the habit by any means will likely require what is common in other addiction treatments: counseling. In today’s digital world, “Facebook, Twitter, texting and the Internet are going to be very good ways to give support,” Abrams says. His organization’s free online support forum, BecomeAnEX.org, has 270,000 members who have access to a community forum, Facebook page and other social media tools that help them learn to live without cigarettes. “This use of social media is in its infancy,” he says, “researchers are just starting to take it seriously.”
“There’s no one way to quit,” Abrams says. “Improving the treatments that we have will go a long way toward beating this very severe addiction and saving millions of lives.”
*Correction (5/7/13): This sentence was changed after posting to more accurately reflect the study's current status.