The idea that smoking cessation will be achieved by simply switching to a nicotine-free product or diet is misguided.
In a new study, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, showed that a “sustainable” approach to tobacco cessation would not only be successful, but would also lead to significant decreases in mortality, disability, and chronic diseases.
“What we know is that, when we change the way we think about smoking, we change everything else about the way people do it,” said Michael Siegel, the lead author of the study.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also found that switching to one of the many non-nicotine products that already exist was an effective strategy.
Siegel’s team was able to analyze the health outcomes of more than 3,600 adults in their 40s and 50s over a 20-year period.
It found that the people who switched to the non-carcinogenic products were at lower risk for death from any cause, were significantly less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and cancer, and were significantly more likely to be physically active.
These benefits were also seen in people who started using a nicotine replacement product after the cessation of smoking, which also reduced mortality and morbidity.
The research also showed that non-coffee smoking cessation could help reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, by up to 60 percent.
Sauer said the next step in addressing tobacco cessation will have to be finding ways to stop people from starting with the most harmful products first.
He said that there is no single solution, and it would be very hard to achieve all the benefits of a non-tobacco-based cessation strategy.
“We need to take into account the whole population, not just those with the highest rates of smoking,” he said.
The American Lung Association, a nonprofit that advocates for the health of the tobacco industry, is a sponsor of this article.