Smokers who recently quit tobacco cigarettes are much more likely to use e-cigarettes than those who quit more than a decade ago, a new study says.

The findings suggest that smokers who want to quit are now using e-cigarettes to help them, according to the authors. In the past, quitters had to rely on other smoking cessation aids.

“Duration of smoking cessation was a major determinant in understanding the complex interaction between smoking and e-cigarette use, and this parameter may be important in examining the impact of e-cigarettes in future population studies,” said the study authors led by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, a cardiologist at Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Kallithea, Greece.

The researchers analyzed data on more than 6,900 current smokers and more than 6,100 former smokers in 28 European countries.

Current daily e-cigarette use was reported by 2% of current and 3% of former smokers. Former daily use of e-cigarettes was reported by nearly 6% and 2%, respectively.

More than half of all former smokers had quit more than 10 years ago. Of those, only 0.2% reported daily e-cigarette use, compared with 9% of those who had quit between three and five years ago, and about 13% of those who had quit in the last two years.

Compared with former smokers who had never used e-cigarettes, current e-cigarette users were nearly five times more likely to have quit smoking within the last two years and over three times more likely to have quit smoking between three and five years ago.

The findings indicate that smokers find e-cigarettes a useful and effective quitting aid, and that some successful quitters eventually stop using e-cigarettes, according to the authors.

The study was published online Feb. 3 in the journal Tobacco Control.

“Former daily e-cigarette use was positively associated with smoking cessation of two or fewer years indicating that some smokers may have quit with e-cigarettes and then quit e-cigarette use too,” they wrote in a journal news release.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on quitting smoking.