Health & Medicine

I Quit (Maybe)!



Electronic cigarettes can’t be sold or marketed as smoking cessation aids, but many smokers see so-called vaping as a desirable way to quit.

The problem is, many of them get “stuck” using both this option and traditional cigarettes, says Doug Jorenby MS’86, PhD’91, director of clinical services for the UW’s Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention. These “dual users” are a key part of an ongoing study of e-cigarettes the center is conducting with a $3.7 million federal grant.

Over the next two years, UW researchers will observe a group of traditional smokers and a group of dual users, monitoring their health overall and measuring the effects vaping has on their lung function. The study will also see whether traditional smokers start vaping and if dual users quit smoking entirely or go back to smoking only traditional cigarettes.

The big three tobacco companies own 80 percent of the biggest- selling brands of e-cigarettes, Jorenby notes. “From a public health perspective, we’re really concerned about dual users,” he says.

“They may be people who would otherwise quit smoking completely, if they used known evidence-based treatments.”

The center recently conducted another study that found that even though the vast majority of dual users enrolled began vaping because they wanted to stop smoking, their motivation to quit was actually much lower than people who were solely smoking traditional cigarettes.

“The assumption is that vaping is a reduction in risk, because people aren’t getting carbon monoxide every time they puff some vapor into their lungs,” Jorenby says. “But with dual users, it may not make any difference.”

Published in the Winter 2016 issue


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