story by Homma Rafi
Director of Communications, School of Public Health
ATLANTA—Not wanting to substitute one addictive product for another was cited as a major reason why U.S. smokers who have never used electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) rejected them as a means to quit cigarettes, according to a study by tobacco researchers from Georgia State University’s School of Public Health.
ENDS, battery-powered devices used to smoke or vape, include electronic cigarettes and vaping devices that often contain nicotine, an addictive chemical, in their solution.
Published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the study used a 2017-18 sample of about 1,800 U.S. adults from the Tobacco Products and Risk Perceptions Survey data, a national online survey. Seventy percent of current smokers in the study were not current ENDS users who had either never used (40 percent) or discontinued using ENDS while continuing to smoke (more than 30 percent).
The larger segment of smokers in the study who have never used ENDS cited other reasons for rejecting them, including concerns about their safety and skepticism that ENDS could help them quit or cut down on smoking.
According to the study, the smaller but sizable segment of smokers who tried but discontinued ENDS reported the device did not replicate the feel of smoking a traditional cigarette and failed to reduce the craving to smoke.
The researchers reported smokers who were formerly regular users of ENDS indicated greater intentions to use them if a best friend were to offer them one than never or former experimental users.
“For ENDS to achieve their potential for harm reduction, they need to be sufficiently appealing to smokers to initiate and continue using them in complete replacement of smoking cigarettes while not appealing to youth or nonsmokers,” said Scott Weaver, lead author of the study and research associate professor in the School of Public Health. “Smokers’ increasing concerns about addiction and their safety and experiences of inadequate craving reduction and incomparability to smoking remain major obstacles for ENDS to completely replace and meaningfully reduce the societal harm of cigarette smoking.”
The other co-authors of the study, who are affiliated with the Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science in the School of Public Health, include J. Wesley Heath, data administrator; David Ashley, research professor; Jidong Huang, associate professor; Terry Pechacek, professor; and Michael P. Eriksen, Regents’ Professor and founding dean of the School of Public Health.
The findings and conclusions in the report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the NIDA or FDA.
Dr. Scott Weaver
Research Associate Professor
Department of Population Health Sciences
School of Public Health
Scott Weaver is a research associate professor of Population Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. Prior to coming to Georgia State University, he completed a NRSA postdoctoral fellowship in Prevention Science and Quantitative Methodology at Arizona State University’s Prevention Research Center (2005-2007).
Identifying primarily as a prevention scientist and quantitative methodologist, Dr. Weaver has over a decade of experience conducting research on topics spanning tobacco control and regulatory science; minority and immigrant health and health disparities; substance use and risky youth behaviors; social and cultural determinants of health; systems interventions for promoting positive youth and family outcomes; and global urban health.
Dr. Weaver is a faculty affiliate of the Partnership for Urban Health Research and the Asian Studies Center at Georgia State University and holds an Honorary Senior Research Fellow appointment with the Centre for Epidemiology within the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences at the University of Manchester.