Harm Reduction Associated with Dual Use of Cigarettes and e-Cigarettes in Black and Latino Smokers: Secondary Analyses from a Randomized Controlled e-Cigarette Switching Trial

Nicotine Tob Res. 2021 Oct 7;23(11):1972-1976. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntab069.


Introduction: Most adult cigarette smokers who use e-cigarettes are dual cigarette and e-cigarette (CC-EC) users, yet little is known about relative consumption of cigarettes to e-cigarettes and any associated harm reduction.

Methods: Rate of substitution from cigarettes to e-cigarettes at week 6 and change in biomarkers of exposure and potential harm were examined among dual dual cigarette and e-cigarette users [64/114 (56%); 35 Black, 29 Latino] in an e-cigarette switching randomized trial.

Results: Dual users averaged 79% substitution of cigarettes for e-cigarettes at week 6, resulting in a reduction from baseline of 70.0 ± 54.1 cigarettes per week (p < .001). Total nicotine consumption remained stable (baseline: 1160.5 ± 1042.1 pg/mL of cotinine, week 6: 1312.5 ± 1725.9 pg/mL of cotinine, p = .47), while significant reductions were seen in the potent lung carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridul)-1-butanol (NNAL) (-55.9 ± 88.6 ng/ml, p < .001), carbon monoxide (-6.3 ± 8.6 ppm, p < .001), and self-reported respiratory symptoms (-3.3 ± 8.0, p = .002). No significant changes were found in blood pressure or spirometry. Greater substitution from cigarettes to e-cigarettes was associated with larger reductions in NNAL (r = -.29, p = .02).

Conclusions: The predominant dual-use pattern was characterized by regular e-cigarette and intermittent cigarette use. Findings demonstrate the short-term harm reduction potential of this dual-use pattern in Black and Latino smokers and suggest that the greatest benefit, aside from cessation of both products, is achieved by higher substitution of e-cigarettes for cigarettes. Findings need confirmation in a larger sample with longer follow-up in dual users with greater variability in the rate of substitution.

Clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT03511001.

Implications: Findings suggest short-term harm reduction potential of dual cigarette-e-cigarette use for Black and Latino smokers. Results also demonstrate the heterogeneity of dual-use, with the greatest harm reduction seen in dual users with higher rates of substitution from cigarettes to e-cigarettes. Study results should be confirmed in a full clinical trial with long-term follow-up to evaluate maintenance of dual-use patterns and associated harm reduction potential over time.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Harm Reduction
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Smokers
  • Tobacco Products*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03511001