Tennessee DOH recommends e-cigs as ‘cessation aid to quit smoking’

According to the FDA deeming regulations, vape shops and e-cig vendors can only discuss e-cig’s potential benefits regarding tobacco harm reduction.  Marketers cannot advertise their products as smoking cessation tools, at least not currently.   However, The Tennessee Department of Health (DOH) seems to disagree strongly with the FDA approach by explicitly recommending in a recent study that vaping can help thousands of Tennesseans quit smoking. 

DOH officials conducted a cross-sectional study involving 6,167 observational evaluations of smoking adults over the age of 18.  The focus of the research w2as to determine any possible links between vaping and smoking cessation, most specifically regarding dual usage.  This 3.5-year study is considered the very first of its kind due to it extended timeframe and breadth of quantitative research.  An abstract of the study entitled E-cigarette usage and its association with attempted cessation among adult smokers, Tennessee Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016 is readily available on the American Public Health Association (APHA) website.

Overview of the Tennessee DOH study 

The over 6,000 participants were divided into two distinct groups:  smokers-only and dual users.  Using scientific practices involving multivariate logistic regression, the DOH scientists tracked the number of times that each participant attempted to quit smoking over a 12-month period.  They also monitored the related success rates. 

  • Of the original 6,127 observations, 1,178 participants were identified as current smokers.
  • 261 of these current smokers admitted to also being dual users of tobacco cigarettes and vaping products.
  • 681 of the 1,178 admitted to having attempted to quit smoking at least once during the 12-month evaluation period.

What the DOH discovered is that smokers who are also dual users of e-cigs are 3.6 times more likely to successfully quit smoking within the first year of making the switch to vaping.  After taking into consideration various societal and economic factors of each of the participants, the researchers modified their calculations to 3.5 times more likely. 

“Income and frequency of cigarette smoking were found to be confounders and were included in the final model to determine the adjusted odds. While controlling for these covariates, smokers who use e-cigarettes were 3.5 (CI: 2.0, 6.1) times more likely to report trying to quit smoking cigarettes during the past 12 months than non-e-cigarette smokers. Conclusion: This analysis provides evidence that current Tennessee adult smokers may be using e-cigarettes as a cessation aid to quit smoking.”

The findings of the Tennessee DOH study are further supported by similar studies conducted both in the United States and abroad.  For example, a recent study conducted by a collaborative group of scientists from Rutgers and Columbia Universities indicate that vapers are 48.9 percent more likely to attempt to quit smoking at least once in their first 12-months of dual use.  The same study also concluded that dual users who attempt to quit smoking via vaping have an average success rate of 52 percent.


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