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E-cigarette initiation and associated changes in smoking cessation and reduction: the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study, 2013–2015
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  • Published on:
    On the importance of using quit-attempters and focusing on why e-cigarettes were used to assessing e-cigarettes role in smoking cessation
    • John P Pierce, professor Moores Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego
    • Other Contributors:
      • Tarik Benmarhnia, Assistant Professor
      • Sara McMenamin, Assistant Professor
      • Martha White, Senior programmer
      • Dennis R Trinidad, Associate Professor
      • David R Strong, Professor

    NOT PEER REVIEWED

    Berry et al (1) report an analysis of two waves of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study focused on the association between the initiation of e-cigarette use by Wave 2 and cigarette abstinence/reduction assessed at Wave 2. They conclude that daily e-cigarette use is associated with both cigarette abstinence and reduced consumption among continuing smokers. While this addresses an important question, we argue that such analyses should be adjusted for the reason e-cigarettes are being used.

    From Wave 1 of PATH (2), we know that ~75% of smokers agreed that e-cigarettes were useful to help people quit. However, ~80% agreed that e-cigarettes allowed someone to replace a cigarette where smoking was prohibited. From the first reason, we can hypothesize that e-cigarette use might be associated with cigarette abstinence/reduction. However, from the second reason, we can also hypothesize that e-cigarettes would be associated with neither cigarette abstinence nor reduction. The recent National Academies report (3) recommended that any assessment of the role of e-cigarettes in cigarette cessation/reduction should focus on smokers who used e-cigarettes to help them quit.
    PATH Wave 2 data does include information on whether smokers tried to quit in the previous year, as well as whether they used e-cigarettes to aid the last quit attempt. Previous research (4) has shown that over half of the smoking population will not ha...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.