Longitudinal Associations Between Pain and Use of Cigarettes and E-cigarettes in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study

Nicotine Tob Res. 2023 Feb 9;25(3):404-411. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntac197.

Abstract

Introduction: Pain has been implicated in the onset and maintenance of nicotine addiction, and there is initial cross-sectional evidence of covariation between pain and the use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes. The goals of the current study were to: (1)test pain severity as a predictor of initiating co-use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes, (2)examine longitudinal associations between pain and use/co-use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes, (3)generate the first prevalence rate data regarding cigarette and e-cigarette use as a function of pain, and (4)examine gender as a moderator of these associations.

Aims and methods: Data were drawn from Waves 1-4 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study (2013-2018).

Results: Among exclusive cigarette smokers at Wave 1 (n = 7719), pain severity was associated with a greater likelihood of and faster trajectory to initiating co-use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes (ps < .05). A significant pain × gender interaction (p < .05) revealed this prospective relationship was stronger among women. Among adult respondents who provided at least three waves of data (n = 24 255), greater Wave 1 pain severity was positively associated with e-cigarette use, cigarette smoking, and co-use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes at Waves 2, 3, and 4 (ps < .001). At Wave 4 (n = 33 822), adults with moderate or severe pain endorsed rates of e-cigarette and cigarette use almost two times greater versus no or low pain (ps < .001).

Conclusions: Collectively, these findings provide evidence that pain likely serves as an important candidate risk factor for the initiation and maintenance of cigarette and e-cigarette use.

Implications: This is the first prospective study to show that pain serves as an important risk factor for initiation and maintenance of cigarette and e-cigarette use over time. Weighted prevalence estimates further demonstrated that individuals with moderate or severe pain endorsed rates of cigarette and e-cigarette use and co-use approximately two times greater compared to those with no or low pain. These findings highlight a subpopulation of nicotine users more susceptible to greater healthcare burden, nicotine dependence, and physical impairment. Nicotine users with comorbid pain may benefit from integrated interventions that address pain in the context of cessation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Nicotiana
  • Nicotine
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tobacco Products*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder* / epidemiology
  • Vaping* / adverse effects
  • Vaping* / epidemiology

Substances

  • Nicotine