(This post has been updated following clarification from Riccardo - see bottom of post.)
Hard on the heels of the UK government's enthusiastic comments on electronic cigarettes, the Italian Non-Smoking Association (Lega Italiano Anti Fumo (LIAF)) is close to announcing positive results from their own research.
Professor Riccardo Polosa, Scientific advisor of LIAF and a Professor of Medicine at Catania University, examined the effect of electronic cigarettes in helping cigarettes smokers to reduce or eliminate tobacco smokers in a 6 month pilot study.
22 participants (55%) were able to either reduce their cigarette consumption or stopping altogether.
In the press release, the Professor stated:
“Cigarette smoking is a tough addiction to break. Therefore, improved approaches to smoking cessation are necessary. E-cigarettes may prove to be a safe alternative to traditional cigarette smoking. They provide a coping mechanism by replacing some of smoking gestures, to help smokers remain abstinent during their quit attempt or to reduce cigarette consumption.”(Source: Italian No Smoking Association.)
Riccardo also told me that he is in the process of publishing the first clinical study on safety and efficacy on e-cigarettes.
Update: Riccardo was kind enough to answer some follow up questions:
What are your thoughts on the safety of e-cigarettes as compared to regular cigarettes?
Although there is no data (and there will never be for the next 5-10 yrs or so) about long term use of these products, there is no reason to believe that a 'vaporizer' can be more dangerous than a lit cigarette. In fact, direct toxicology comparisons show that e-cig are 250 to 750 times (depending on the carcinogen measured) less toxic than a lit cigarette. We are currently designing a study to evaluate circulating marker for cardiovascular risk in switchers/quitters, dual users and smoking cessation/switching failure.
When you mean quit, does this include people who continue to use electronic cigarettes?
Of course. In our study we had 9/40 'quitters' - but in fact only 3 quit smoking and e-cig whereas the other 6 switched to a e-cig.