After six months, however, the 57% of e cigarette users had halved the number of cigarettes smoked each day compared with 41% in those using patches.

‘Increasing popularity’

Prof Chris Bullen, from the University of Auckland, said “While our results don’t show any clear cut differences between e cigarettes and patches in terms of ‘quit success’ after six months, it certainly seems that e cigarettes were more effective in helping smokers who didn’t quit to cut down.

“It’s also interesting that the people who took part in our study seemed to be much more enthusiastic about e cigarettes than patches.

“Given the increasing popularity of these devices in many countries, and the accompanying regulatory uncertainty and inconsistency, larger, longer term trials are urgently needed to establish whether these devices might be able to fulfil their potential as effective and popular smoking cessation aids.”

Regulations around the world are catching up with the surge in the popularity of e cigarettes. The EU and the UK are both working towards regulating e cigarettes in the same way as medicines.

The products also divide opinion with some arguing they normalise smoking and others saying they may help people to give up.

Prof Peter Hajek, the director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, described the study as “pioneering”.

“The key message is that in the context of minimum support, e cigarettes are at least as effective as nicotine patches.

“E cigarettes are also more attractive than patches to many smokers, and can be accessed in most countries without the restrictions around medicines that apply to nicotine replacement therapy or the costly involvement of health professionals.

“These advantages suggest that e cigarettes have the potential to increase rates of smoking cessation and reduce costs to quitters and to health services.”

However, he did call for longer term studies into the consequences of using the devices.

You can hear more from Prof Chris Bullen on Discovery on the BBC World Service.

Nine ex-smokers on their last cigarette –

Tax free cigarettes store. discount marlboro cigarettes

Pizza restaurant owner Paul Tamasi makes themed pies to show how he feels about a certain topic. He recently made one with a “no smoking” symbol to remind himself of February 14, 1985.

On that Valentine’s Day, Tamasi tossed his final cigarette into a barrel. He was quitting a habit of smoking two packs a day for 20 years, going back to age 13.

“I was positive and determined that this would be my last cigarette,” he said.

“I would buy two packs a day and sometimes run out. Then I would bum some from my co worker. One day, I asked to bum a cigarette from her and she said to me, ‘Why don’t you just buy more cigarettes?’ That’s when I really realized that I had a serious problem. I said to myself, that’s it, I have to do something about this.”

So why Valentine’s Day?

“I picked this day because I knew if I succeeded I would always be able to remember the day I stopped smoking,” the Belvidere, Vermont, resident explained.

He felt a weight lifted off his shoulders and still feels that way 28 years later.

“When I was smoking and played sports my chest felt like it was going to cave in and it was hard to breathe. Now I don’t get that bad feeling because I don’t smoke anymore. Needless to say, I have a lot more money in my pocket than I would if I had to pay the high price of what cigarettes cost.”

Cinnamon and cigarettes

Her final cigarette was one she saw coming, and Linda Parker was ready to take the dive.

After a three week course sponsored by the American Lung Association, she had to give up her cigarettes and her lighter.

She took that final smoke, then moved on to cinnamon hearts, jawbreakers and the like to fulfill the need for the hot cigarette sensation.

She was determined to do it, though, after her mother received her sixth pacemaker and her father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Her son had been diagnosed with Legg Calv Perthes Disease, which affects the hips. Doctors told her it may have come from her smoking.

“My first two weeks (not smoking) were easy but then on the third week, I felt like I was going to die. I hadn’t slept much, wasn’t dreaming, was super irritable and ate like a pig.”

That was 20 years ago. Yet she continued to struggle for many of those years.

“It took me years to stop dreaming about having a cigarette and sometimes I would wake up and not be sure if I had smoked,” she said.

“Luckily, I have never had another cigarette, not even a puff.”

The retired Flossmoor, Illinois, resident told herself she could return to smoking at age 65. Yet Parker just turned 65 this month.

“It was too difficult to quit and the damage smoking does isn’t worth the pleasure it provides.”