Study: Vaping Devices Can Help Reduce Smoking Dependence – But Will They Quit?

Doctor holds a vape and a cigaretteMore vaping was associated with less smoking and lower dependence on combustible tobacco products, according to a paper in the journal Addictive Behaviors by Dr. Anne Buu and co-authored by UW-CTRI Associate Director of Research Dr. Megan Piper.

What’s less clear is whether that would lead to total smoking cessation or continued dual use of combustibles and e-cigarettes.

An important caveat is that the research used data on vaping from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study from 2013-2015. Juul, with its unique system of nicotine + benzoic acid + flavors to deliver more nicotine with a smoother experience, didn’t hit the market until June of 2015. So this paper focused on earlier-generation vaping devices that either look like cigarettes or are “tanks” with larger e-juice cartridges.

Piper and colleagues did find that e-cigarette flavoring (other than tobacco flavor) was associated with less smoking. This jibes with data shared by multiple researchers at the recent conference of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) in San Francisco that showed that flavor matters when it comes to the amount of use, dependence levels, and irritation to the human body.

“For smokers who choose to start vaping, it might help them reduce their smoking,” Piper said. “But this doesn’t necessarily mean they will quit smoking.”

PATH data indicated Hispanics may be less likely to replace smoking with vaping. This was also consistent with data at SRNT indicating that affluent white smokers were more likely to try vaping to reduce the harm of cigarettes, whereas people from minority groups were less likely to believe vaping was safer or to afford the vaping starter kits.

For more on e-cigarettes, JUUL and vaping, click here.