Electronic cigarettes are widely promoted as a way to help addicted smokers quit.

There’s just one problem—they don’t.

They may even make quitting harder.


Until now, the best that could be said about using e-cigs to break the habit was that the jury was out. In 2015, the US Preventive Services Task Force concluded that the evidence was “insufficient” to recommend them for smoking cessation.

Now researchers at the University of California have dug deeper. They reviewed 38 studies of smoking cessation, including 20 that included control groups.

Results: Smokers who used e-cigarettes were 28% less likely to quit compared with other smokers.


Turns out, we already know the best way to quit smoking—a combination of counseling, either in person or via a telephone quit line, combined with medication such as a nicotine patch. (You can get free text and phone support at Smokefree.gov.)

It’s not easy, to be sure.

But now we know that it won’t get any easier by vaping, which carries its own health hazards.

To learn new ways to crush the tobacco habit, see Bottom Line’s guide, Quit Smoking: 14 Ways That Really Work.