The team from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London (Erikas Simonavicius, Ann McNeill, and Leonie Brose) noted that by 2017 there were fewer smokers than ex‐smokers in the UK, and that the nation was experiencing a rapid surge in people switching to vaping.
It was clear that vaping was helping smokers to switch to a less harmful alternative, they wrote, but “there is little evidence about transitions between smoking and alternative nicotine use.”
“Relapse after stopping smoking is the norm: before stopping for a year, a smoker on average relapses 30 times,” they continued before stating that vaping is not just more popular but more effective – proven in both real‐world and clinical studies.
Using a group of people who’d smoked during the previous year, the study aimed to: “(i) identify and characterise latent groups and their prevalence among smokers and recent ex‐smokers; and (ii) explore longitudinal transitions between the identified latent groups.”
Baseline study data were collected from 3431 subjects in in May–June 2016, and then 1775 were followed‐up in September–October 2017. Study measures were taken from two established population surveys: The Smoking Toolkit Study and the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project.
They discovered that heavy smokers were daily smokers, the most likely to experience “strong to extreme urges to smoke”, and 92.5% didn’t use ecigs. They smoked more, earned less, were older, and had a lower level of education.
Light smokers smoked less intensely, 70.9% smoked daily, and reported “exclusively no or weak urges to smoke”. 98.2% didn’t vape and 99.9% didn’t use NRT products – but they were the group least likely to have tried to quit tobacco use.
Four fifths of dual fuellers vaped daily. They did not use NRT, “experienced no or weak urges to smoke and most likely had not recently tried to quit smoking”. Just 16% were “strongly motivated to quit.”
They concluded: “Heavy and light smokers were stable and intransigent: they had low odds of using alternative nicotine products, attempting to stop smoking and transitioning to ex‐smokers' groups.”
“Our findings supported the evidence that a considerable proportion of dual users continue using e‐cigarettes after quitting smoking, but also showed that smokers using NRT and using e‐cigarettes had relatively high probabilities of transitioning to the abstinent ex‐smokers' group.”
“Although recent ex‐smokers discontinue using NRT quicker than e‐cigarettes, our findings affirm that dual e‐cigarette use while smoking does not necessarily predispose to continued e‐cigarette use after quitting smoking. Generally, these transitions attest that alternative nicotine products might help smokers to quit, prevent relapse and eventually aid the transition to abstinence from nicotine.”
- “Transitions in smoking and nicotine use from 2016 to 2017 among a UK cohort of adult smokers and ex‐smokers”, by Simonavicius, McNeill, and Brose – [link]