Smoking Cessation and Electronic Cigarette Use among Head and Neck Cancer Patients

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2016 Jan;154(1):73-9. doi: 10.1177/0194599815613279. Epub 2015 Oct 30.


Objectives: (1) Investigate electronic cigarette (e-cig) use among head and neck (HN) cancer patients; (2) define quit methods, success, motivations, and barriers to smoking cessation; and (3) determine the impact of e-cig use in smoking cessation.

Study design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Tertiary care center.

Methods: An in-office survey was administered to HN cancer patients ≥ 19 years of age with past/present tobacco use. Patient demographics were collected. Quit methods, success, and motivations/barriers were surveyed. The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test was used to correlate alcohol use and cessation. Independent variables associated with cessation were studied with Fisher's exact test and Student's t test. Subgroup analysis was performed for e-cig users.

Results: Of 110 eligible patients, 106 (96%) enrolled (83% male, 82% Caucasian), of whom 69 (65%) successfully quit. Age of first tobacco use did not differ between the smoking and cessation groups (P = .14), nor did hazardous drinking (30% smoking vs 14% cessation; P = .072). "Cold turkey" (ie, stopping abruptly without smoking cessation aids) was the most common method attempted (n = 88, 83%) and most successful (n = 65, 94%). There was no statistical difference in age, sex, race, drinking, or socioeconomic status between e-cig users and nonusers. Nonusers achieved higher quit rates as compared with e-cig users (72% vs 39%; P = .0057). E-cig use did not decrease the number of cigarettes smoked (463 cigarettes/month) versus that of nonusers (341 cigarettes/month; P = .2). Seventy percent of e-cig users wore a nicotine patch.

Conclusions: HN cancer patients desire smoking cessation. E-cig did not decrease tobacco use, and patients who utilize e-cigs are less likely to achieve smoking cessation.

Keywords: electronic cigarette; head and neck cancer; smoking cessation.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking* / adverse effects