quit smokingUsing the term “quit smoking” seems to be comparable to “curing cancer” in the eyes of government health agencies (FDA, CDC, Health Canada, UK Dept. of Health, WHO, etc) as well as many of the public health organizations (Tobacco Free Kids, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, etc). So is there a difference between claiming some drug or device or plan can cure cancer vs helping smokers kick the habit?

The answer is yes and no. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) does consider drug addiction to be a brain disease, although the act of smoking is not a disease, it is an action (as mentioned in our post The Legal Argument About Why The Electronic Cigarette Is Not An NRT). So although the semantics dictate that only the term “quit using nicotine” should be a therapeutic claim, the truth is that the CDC and FDA (and thus public health organizations) consider this to be the same as claiming a product can “help you quit smoking”.

Putting aside the argument about cracking down on “snake oil salesmen” which doesn’t hold water in today’s information age where consumers have numerous resources to do their own research; the question becomes is that the best stance for public health? Success rates for quit smoking are historically low. For instance, it is estimated that nicotine gum has about a 7% – 8% success rate for smokers quitting for a full year. Based on this, should nicotine gum manufacturers be able to claim their products help you quit smoking? Especially considering this is just slightly above using the cold turkey method? Does real world data not count for anything? The e-cigarette-forum is full of electronic cigarette users opinions on using e-cigs to quit smoking. And there have been studies and surveys completed about the effective use of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation, such as the one completed in Italy and presented at the XIV Annual Meeting of the SRNT Europe (Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco-Europe Chapter) in Finland. Below is the conclusion from that study:

A significant reduction in mean cig/day use and eCO levels from baseline was recorded at all study visits in all three study groups. A mean of 2.0 cartridges/day was used in each study group up to the 3-month time point, but falling thereafter. 50% reduction in the number of cig/day was shown in 21% and 9% participants in group A, in 16% and 8% in group B and in 19% and 10% in groupC, at month-3 and -12 respectively. Smoking abstinence was observed in 11 % and 13% participants in group A, in 17% and 9% in group B and in 4% and 4% in group C, at month-3 and -12 respectively. Only minor and transient adverse events were reported, including mouth and throat irritation, and dry cough. By and large, participants’ perception and acceptance of the product was positive. Conclusion: In smokers not intending to quit, the use of e-Cigarette decreased cigarette consumption and elicited enduring tobacco abstinence at 1-yr without causing significant side effects.

Is this data not relevant?  Apparently not, since claiming e-cigarettes help smokers quit smoking is still a no-no.  But why?  I recommend finding out where the FDA gets their funding and coming to your own conclusions.

So for now, no-one promoting e-cigarettes can say electronic cigarettes help you quit smoking.  What they can say is “Do you smoke?  They try an e-cigarette….you’ll love it!”

3 thoughts on “Why Quit Smoking Is A Protected Term

  1. This is a load of bull, especially the end of the article. When i sell, i explain to my customers how they can use the device to QUIT SMOKING, because if you take the right steps thats exactly what its for, yes, to quit smoking. You have to educate to customers, if your not pitching that its to quit smoking, your selling it wrong.

    1. @ Ruthless, did you even read the article? They state right in the article that research shows e-cigs is an effective cessation technique; however, those who sell e-cigs (like you, I think) need to be careful on how they word this particular claim because of the FDA. While you in particular may not have to worry about the federal level (yet), some companies do. It is generally best to keep your understanding of the research verbal and anecdotal or print out actual research findings and articles (such as this one) for your customers to make their own informed decisions. This will ensure your customers are smart and happy and you don’t get fined for claiming something the FDA won’t agree to.

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