Options Study

Options is a research study at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

The study found that cigarettes with very low nicotine can substitute for typical cigarettes equally well as vapes.

If you’d like to quit smoking, chewing or vaping, please try the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line.

The study enrolled 209 adults who smoked cigarettes but were not ready to quit. Participants were randomly assigned to switch to one of three interventions.

The Options Study is conducted by UW-CTRI in the Madison and Milwaukee areas. Participants temporarily switch from just smoking to alternative products. These products include Juul e-cigarettes or cigarettes with very low nicotine content. Participants will get paid up to $380.

The study was featured in the Wisconsin State Journal.

The Options Study is made possible by a $1.4 million three-year grant from the National Cancer Institute and Food and Drug Administration to the UW Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention (UW-CTRI).

All study participants were smokers who didn’t want to quit, but were willing to switch from their cigarettes to something new for a week. The four weeks of the study had different goals:

  • Week 1: Try out the study product they were randomly assigned to use: Juul e-cigarettes, VLN cigarettes or no alternative product. They could smoke their own cigarettes as usual.
  • Week 2 (Switch Week): Don’t smoke their own cigarettes but use a patch (active or placebo) and their assigned study product.
  • Week 3: Smoke their own cigarettes and use their study product as much as they want.
  • Week 4 (Switch Week): Don’t smoke their own cigarettes but use a patch (if they had an active patch with nicotine in Week 2 they now had a placebo patch with no nicotine or vice versa) and their assigned study product.

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

Dr. Megan Piper
Dr. Megan Piper

“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.