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Dual E-cigarette and Cigarette Smokers Are Less Successful at Smoking Cessation

New York, NY – May 5, 2020 – In a new study that looks at whether e-cigarettes are helpful in getting poorly motivated smokers to quit, researchers have found that those who smoked both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes were less likely to abstain from smoking than traditional cigarette-only smokers.  The study was posted online in the Abstract Issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (Abstract #13611. Title:  Effect of E-cigarette Use on Smoking Cessation in Low Motivation Smokers.)

“Research has shown that many e-cigarette smokers believe e-cigarettes are a smoking cessation tool,” said study author Nancy Anoruo, MD, MPH, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School.  “It is interesting to see the discrepancy between these beliefs and reality.”

Dr. Anoruo and colleagues looked at a group of 405 “low motivation” smokers – smokers who did not express a desire to quit.  Some of them also vaped; they were labeled “dual smokers.”  The dual smokers responded “yes” to the question, “Have you ever tried an e-cigarette, even just one time?”

“This is an important group to target since there is limited research on smokers who are ‘low motivated’,” stated Dr. Anoruo.

The researchers encouraged both groups to quit smoking for a brief time period.  At three weeks, dual smokers were able to abstain from smoking for about half as long as traditional smokers.  At six months, dual smokers smoked more daily cigarettes than traditional smokers.  The research team applied statistical analyses to the study results. (For more detail, please see research abstract below.)

“Several key messages are used by manufacturers to promote e-cigarettes, including the messages that they are a safer alternative to cigarettes, an effective smoking cessation aid and can be used where smoking is prohibited,” noted Dr. Anoruo.  “This marketing definitely works:  Studies on the beliefs of e-cigarette users reflect the exact messages e-cigarette manufacturers have spent millions of dollars to convey.”

Dr. Anoruo noted that further analyses of this study’s data may turn up additional findings, and that more studies should be done to determine whether these findings hold true for higher motivation smokers.  She also suggested further studies on how to best help low motivation smokers quit, and on the use of e-cigarettes as cessation tools.    

This research is supported by National Cancer Institute R01 grant CA190866-01A1.