Electronic cigarettes work about as well as nicotine patches in helping smokers kick the habit, researchers report. And e cigarettes helped people smoke fewer cigarettes overall, even if they didn t quit completely.

The study is the first major piece of research to show that the products, which deliver a nicotine mist using a cigarette shaped pipe, can actually benefit smokers.

The findings, published in the Lancet medical journal, are not quite enough to make public health experts embrace e cigarettes, which are not yet regulated and which are growing in popularity. But it s enough to make them look more closely at whether there may be some benefit to them.

You’re trading one addiction for another addiction, Dr. Cheryl Healton, president and CEO of the anti tobacco Legacy Foundation, told NBC News. “(But) it may be that for some people, this will be a better way to quit, and there may be people who’ve tried other things and haven’t been able to quit who will quit with this.”

For the study, Chris Bullen of the University of Auckland in New Zealand and colleagues recruited 657 smokers who wanted to quit. They divided them into three groups, to get either 13 weeks supply of e cigarettes, nicotine patches or placebo e cigarettes that contained no nicotine.

After six months, 5.7 percent of the volunteers had managed to completely quit smoking. It was slightly more in the e cigarette group, but not in a way that was statistically significant, Bullen reported.

It s very difficult to quit smoking, but the e cigarettes also appeared to have helped people cut back on real tobacco. Bullen s team found that 57 percent of volunteers given real e cigarettes were smoking half as many cigarettes a day as before, compared to 41 percent of those who got patches.

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, Bullen said in a statement.

It s also interesting that the people who took part in our study seemed to be much more enthusiastic about e cigarettes than patches, as evidenced by the far greater proportion of people in both of the e cigarette groups who said they d recommend them to family or friends, compared to patches.

Healton said that was a provocative finding. It does also suggest consumer acceptability of the product is higher, she said.

U.S. health officials are very concerned about the rise in popularity of e cigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration released a report on Thursday showing a doubling in the number of high school students who have tried them, to 10 percent.

More than 21 percent of adults have tried them at least once, but the CDC says they are addictive and may themselves be dangerous.

We don t know much about them, says Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC Office on Smoking and Health. But he says they could potentially be useful if tobacco companies would stop making products like cigarettes and make e cigarettes instead and if those e cigarettes did indeed turn out to be less harmful than conventional cigarettes.

Our nirvana is a world where nobody is dying from death and disease caused by tobacco, McAfee told NBC News. If you have a product that doesn t kill people, that is where the money should be going, that is where the promotion, the marketing should be going.

They are pricey an e cigarette product ranges from $10 to $120, depending on how many charges it provides. And there are dozens, if not hundreds, of brands. FDA says some appear to contain carcinogens, and there is some evidence that nicotine is not only addictive, but may itself damage health.

They could have inherent dangers that are greater than using something like gum or the patch, Healton said.

CDC says tobacco is the leading preventable cause of dis ease, dis ability, and death in the United States, killing 443,000 people a year.

Public health experts are desperate for ways to help people quit smoking, but it is hard. The American Cancer Society says only 4 percent to 7 percent of people manage to quit on any single given try. Drugs such as Chantix or Zyban can raise this rate to 25 percent.

There s also counseling, nicotine gum and patches, hypnosis and acupuncture, and companies are working on anti nicotine vaccines.

Erika Edwards contributed to this report.

Coffee & cigarettes: educational links for friday – field gulls

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While I’m away from the blog for a couple of weeks, I’ve set up some posts that point you in the direction of some interesting or educational links about football. Today’s expert analysis comes from Ted Sundquist, the former GM of the Denver Broncos.

Restructuring NFL Football Operations The Process
This is the third part in a series on the restructuring of Football Operations at the League level. Part one discussed the need for compartmentalizing the scattered programs the NFL is currently implementing. In part two we looked at the importance of maintaining the QUALITY of the NFL s product The Game. Now in part three TFE reviews The Process of Football Operations in the NFL.

Time to restructure Football Operations in the NFL
TFE gives its take on the need for restructuring the Football Operations Department of the National Football League.

Restructuring NFL Football Operations The Game
TFE breaks down its restructuring of NFL Football Operations with the first of the four categories of its organizational pyramid The Game.

The APTUS Test and its growing effect on NFL Draft evaluations
TFE turns to its partner Optimum Scouting’s Mark Dulgerian for a look at the APTUS Test and its effect on NFL Draft evaluations.

Loss of FOCUS & UNITY could fracture the 49ers future.
The situation in San Francisco is serious. If the tension between head coach Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke is as tumultuous as is being reported (and I personally don t know if it is), then Jed York should make it his first and foremost priority. Clean this mess up, ASAP.

5 Business Lessons From Former NFL GM Ted Sundquist
I recently had the chance to sit down with the Motley Fool s own Jake Mann to discuss some of the business principles that I felt crossed over into the world of professional football and the emphasis I put on these in my book Taking Your Team To The Top How to build and manage great teams like the pros.

Today’s NFL GM One and done?
The NFL offseason is upon us and focus now shifts towards the front office executives in charge of rebuilding their rosters in hopes of dethroning the reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. Much has been said about the job that GM John Schneider has done in building the Seahawks into professional football s powerhouse with his craft use of the draft and free agency.

What Are Your Memories of Being in the Super Bowl?
I recently completed an interview for regarding my personal thoughts and experiences in relation to back to back Super Bowl Championships and the ensuing efforts to get the Denver Broncos back to the “Big Game” as General Manager. It was a fantastic opportunity to share with Quora and I d like to share my answers with the readers of The Football Educator as well. Here s my recollection of Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII, along with links to more of my insights on the postseason.

Which comes first, the General Manager or the Head Coach?
I spent the better part of this past week discussing the various tactics and strategies of the General Manager Head Coach relationship in the National Football League.

With the College season ending, what’s up next for NFL scouts?
The past four months have been pivotal for prospective NFL Draft prospects. Professional scouts have been scouring the country showing up to watch film in the early hours of the morning, taking lunch breaks to speak with pro liaisons, grabbing a few minutes with position coaches as they walk out to practice, catching the first few warm up drills to get a sense of how a particular player might move around. Through the copious notes and detailed chicken scratch, they piece together the various components of a puzzle that will ultimately lead them to their evaluation of whether he “can or can t” for their team. Then it s on to the next one.

“FIRE” can spread quickly throughout an NFL team even in Tampa Bay
Bay Buccaneers lost their seventh straight game last Thursday, falling 31 13 to division rival Carolina.