GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Many smokers start the New Year with a resolution to kick the habit.

But, can using electronic cigarettes help bridge the gap between being a smoker and a non-smoker?

According to a recent study, it may do more harm than good.

The study looked at 32,000 U.S. adults, none of whom had previously been diagnosed with lung disease.

“Over the period of three years, they found that people who were using electronic cigarettes were 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with a chronic lung disease like COPD, asthma, emphysema, or bronchitis,” said Humberto Choi, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study.

Researchers also found those who continued to use regular cigarettes, in addition to electronic cigarettes, were three times more likely to develop a chronic lung disease, than non-users.

Dr. Choi said we’ve heard a lot lately about the connection between electronic cigarettes, or ‘vaping’ and acute lung injury, but this study showed evidence that vaping can cause long-term health problems.

For those who may have tried vaping in an effort to quit their traditional cigarettes, he said it’s important to remember both products contain nicotine – which is what keeps people addicted.

Dr. Choi said this study gives us more data suggesting that using electronic cigarettes as a means to quit smoking is not safe, and it is not effective.

“In the end, you’re using both products at the same time, and they found that very few people stopped smoking, even when they added the electronic cigarettes,” he said. “What they saw, was when they’re using both types of cigarettes combined, the effect in the lungs was actually worse than just smoking regular cigarettes.” 

For people looking to quit smoking, Dr. Choi recommends talking to a doctor about other options such as gums, patches, and medications that can help kick the habit.

Complete results of the study can be found in the Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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