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NAQC Newsroom: Research

A Randomized Trial Comparing the Effect of Nicotine Versus Placebo Electronic Cigarettes on Smoking

Tuesday, February 16, 2016  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
Tuo-Yen Tseng, MA, Jamie S Ostroff, PhD, Alena Campo, BS, Meghan Gerard, MPA, Thomas Kirchner, PhD, John Rotrosen, MD and Donna Shelley, MD MPH
A Randomized Trial Comparing the Effect of Nicotine Versus Placebo Electronic Cigarettes on Smoking Reduction Among Young Adult Smokers.
Nicotine Tob Res (2016)doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntw017First published online: January 17, 2016 

Electronic cigarette (EC) use is growing dramatically with use highest among young adults and current smokers. One of the most common reasons for using ECs is interest in quitting or reducing cigarettes per day (CPD); however there are few randomized controlled trials (RCT) on the effect of ECs on smoking abstinence and reduction. We conducted a two-arm; double-blind RCT. Subjects were randomized to receive 3-weeks of either disposable 4.5% nicotine EC (intervention) or placebo EC. The primary outcome was self-reported reduction of ≥50% in the number of CPDs smoked at week 3 (end of treatment) compared to baseline. Study subjects (n=99) were young adult (21-35), current smokers (smoked ≥10 CPDs) living in NYC.
Compared with baseline, a significant reduction in CPDs was observed at both study time periods (1 and 3 weeks) for intervention (p<.001) and placebo (p<.001) groups. Between-group analyses showed significantly fewer CPDs in the intervention group compared to the placebo group at week 3 (p=.03), but not at any other follow-up periods. The logistic regression analysis showed that using a greater number of ECs, treatment condition and higher baseline readiness to quit were significantly associated with achieving ≥50% reduction in CPDs at the end of treatment. A diverse young adult sample of current everyday smokers, who were not ready to quit, was able to reduce smoking with the help of ECs. Further study is needed to establish the role of both placebo and nicotine containing ECs in increasing both reduction and subsequent cessation.

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