If you have ever tried to stop smoking, you know just how hard it can be. You’ve tried it all: nicotine gum, the patches, quitting cold-turkey, e-cigarettes. Logic would tell you that by stopping or cutting back on smoking, you’re improving your health. But, what about switching from smoking cigarettes to smoking e-cigarettes?
You may think this is a positive step in your efforts to stop smoking yet studies suggest this is not exactly the case. Researchers found that the risk of having a heart attack in those who smoked regular cigarettes daily versus e-cigarettes are “about the same.”
E-cigarettes are often thought of as a smoking cessation tool but what most often happens is that people end up smoking regular cigarettes in addition to e-cigarettes. What makes this more alarming, according to the study, is that “Using both products at the same time is worse than using either one separately. Someone who continues to smoke daily while using e-cigarettes daily increases the odds of a heart attack by a factor of five.”
The bottom-line is that e-cigarettes do not lower your risk of heart attack when compared to smoking cigarettes. In fact, you increase your risk by five-fold if you smoke both.
The most appropriate recommendation is to stop smoking altogether. I often tell my patients if they could do one single thing to improve their overall health, it would be to stop smoking. I also realize that is easier said than done.
What has actually proven to be most helpful with smoking cessation is utilizing two smoking cessation methods simultaneously (i.e. using the nicotine gum and a wearing a nicotine-replacement patch or taking a medication like Chantix and wearing a patch). Making your home smoke-free is also a great idea to set yourself up for success. Additionally, having a great support network among your friends and family is vital to your smoking cessation efforts.
If you are a smoker and have an interest in quitting, talk to your medical provider about all of the options that are currently available to help you put the cigarettes away for good.
Jeremiah Robinson is a licensed and certified Physician Assistant at T. Douglas Gurley MD in Atlanta, GA.