New Study Will Help Youth Quit Vaping

A teenager in headphones looks at his phone

More than 1.4 million adolescents and 4.7 million young adults in the United States report vaping, according to FDA and CDC’s National Youth Tobacco Survey. The majority never smoked.

Dr. Brian Williams
Dr. Brian Williams

To help them quit, UW-CTRI Researcher and UW Health Pediatric and Internal Medicine Hospitalist Dr. Brian Williams has garnered a new $967,000 5-year K08 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

While researchers don’t yet know the full extent of any long-term health effects of vaping, they do have evidence that nicotine alters the adolescent brain. It increases teens’ and young adults’ risk for:

  • Impulsivity.
  • Frequent headaches.
  • Mood disorders.
  • Stunted learning and recall.
  • Diminished enjoyment of activities they normally adore.
  • Sleep problems.

Yet to date, there have been only two randomized controlled trials on how to help youth quit vaping, one of which studied “This is Quitting,” a popular national texting program designed by TRUTH to help youth ditch vaping. Researchers found evidence that This is Quitting increased quit rates.

“Our goal with this new grant is to improve understanding of how to engage adolescents and young adults in vaping cessation treatment,” Williams said, “and ultimately discover how best to help them to quit.”

He plans to recruit nationwide to examine youth perspectives on strategies to increase engagement with This is Quitting. Williams plans to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of two enhancements to This is Quitting—financial incentives and FDA-approved nicotine-replacement medications. In addition, Williams will use data from the PATH Study to better identify predictors of quit attempts as well as success.

UW-CTRI Director Dr. Michael Fiore will serve as Williams’ primary mentor on the project.

“It’s critical that we learn more about how to help youth refrain from all tobacco use,” Fiore said. “In particular, we need more information on how to help teens and young adults to quit vaping. This project will do just that. I’m enormously proud of Brian for securing this prestigious NIDA K08 grant.”

“I’d like to thank NIDA for their support,” Williams said. “This is an incredible opportunity to learn more about how to help young people quit vaping, expand my research knowledge through targeted curriculum, while also working with an incredible group of mentors and collaborators. I feel very fortunate.”