Introduction: Smokers are using electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, as a cessation aid, despite uncertainty about their efficacy. This report describes the association between use of e-cigarettes before and after cessation treatment and tobacco abstinence at 12 months. It also presents characteristics of e-cigarette users and reasons for use.
Methods: A longitudinal observational secondary analysis of self-reported e-cigarette use was conducted among adult Appalachian smokers enrolled in a community-based tobacco dependence treatment trial (n = 217). Data were collected at baseline, 3, 6, and 12 months following treatment. The primary outcome measure was biochemically-confirmed 7-day point prevalence tobacco abstinence at 12 months post-treatment.
Results: One in five participants reported using e-cigarettes post-treatment. Baseline sociodemographic and tobacco-related characteristics did not differ by e-cigarette use. Primary reasons for e-cigarette use included help in quitting, help in cutting down on cigarettes, and not as bad for health. At the 12 month follow-up, tobacco abstinence was significantly lower among post-treatment e-cigarette users (4.7%) than nonusers (19.0%); (OR = 0.21 95% CI: 0.05-0.91, p = .021). Baseline use was not associated with 12-month abstinence.
Conclusions: Among adult Appalachian smokers enrolled in community-based tobacco cessation treatment, use of e-cigarettes post-treatment was associated with lower abstinence rates at 12 months.
Implications: This descriptive report of electronic cigarette use after participation in a community-based group randomized tobacco dependence treatment trial adds to the body of science examining e-cigarette use and cessation. Post-treatment e-cigarette use was associated with less success in achieving abstinence at 12 months, as compared to nonuse. At 3 months post-treatment, the majority of those who reported use of e-cigarettes did so to assist with cessation.
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