‘Options Study’ Begins Recruitment, UW-CTRI Reopens Research with COVID Safeguards

UW-CTRI has reopened its research studies with COVID-19 safeguards in place, including mask requirements, sanitizing rooms, isolation of patient rooms, and hand sanitizer.

The study known as CLUES has restarted and the Options Study has already recruited participants this month. CLUES is studying how vaping, juuling, and smoking affect health.

In the case of Options, people in the Madison and Milwaukee areas who want to see what it’s like to temporarily switch from just smoking to alternative products—like Juul e-cigarettes or cigarettes with very low nicotine content—will be able to give it a try. They’ll even get paid up to $380 for doing it. This study is now full and no longer recruiting.

It’s thanks to a $1.4 million three-year grant from the National Cancer Institute and Food and Drug Administration to UW-CTRI. All study participants will be smokers who don’t want to quit smoking, but are willing to switch from their cigarettes to something new for a week. They will:

  • Be randomly assigned to switch to vaping or smoking low-nicotine cigarettes (LNC) for a week or to using no alternative product.
  • Then they go back smoking their own cigarettes for a week.
  • Then they have another week where they switch from smoking to Juul, or LNC or no alternative product.
  • During the two switch weeks, all participants will be given patches. During one week, the patches will have active nicotine and, during the other switch week, the patches will be placebo (no nicotine).

    Dr. Megan Piper
    Dr. Megan Piper

Researchers will examine how well Juul or low-nicotine cigarettes can substitute for regular smoking, and how nicotine patches factor into it and why.

“The landscape of tobacco products is changing and we need to understand how people use these products in the real world and how they compare to their regular cigarettes,” said Dr. Megan Piper (right), UW-CTRI associate director of research and principal investigator on the study. “This information will help inform the US Food and Drug Administration as they try to make rules about tobacco products.”

Kate Kobinsky
Kate Kobinsky

When patients volunteer for the Options Study, research staff will discuss safety protocols for COVID-19 and the study itself.

Kate Kobinsky (left) is coordinating various aspects of the study.