A pilot study on electronic cigarette use and their impact on smoking and quitting in youth
Dr Wang, Man Ping (Principal investigator)
Block Grant Earmarked for Research (104)
HKU Project Code
Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are regularly promoted as cessation aids, although their effects on smoking cessation are unclear. Young people are increasingly the targets of e-cigarette advertising and are more likely to try these products. A randomised controlled trial on adults found that both e-cigarette use and nicotine replacement therapy had similar effects on quitting. However, cross-sectional studies on adolescents found inconsistent associations of e-cigarette use with quitting and with conventional cigarette use. Our cross-sectional study on secondary students showed associations of e-cigarettes use with intention to smoke, nicotine addiction, and lower likelihood of quit attempts and intention. Prospective studies are needed to provide better temporal associations of e-cigarette use with smoking cessation, relapse and nicotine addiction among the smoking youth. Our pilot study showed that nearly half (49%) of callers to a Youth Quitline had tried e-cigarettes and many of them had a positive attitude towards e-cigarette use. This suggests an emerging need to study the associations of e-cigarette use with quitting and nicotine addiction in youth. We propose to use a mixed method (longitudinal, trajectory and qualitative studies) to provide comprehensive evidence on the impact of e-cigarette use on smoking and quitting among a cohort of Youth Quitline callers and smoking youth (N=200) in Hong Kong. This proposal is in line with the recent appeal from the World Health Organisation calling for detailed studies on the impact of e-cigarette use. The longitudinal study will investigate the effects of baseline e-cigarette use on quitting (including relapse), nicotine addiction and intention to smoke at 12-month follow-up. We will also conduct a qualitative study on 10 ex- and 10 current smokers to supplement and facilitate interpretation of the quantitative findings. This will be the first study on the association between e-cigarette use and conventional smoking among youth in Hong Kong, which has strict controls on tobacco use including e-cigarettes. The findings will provide evidence for Mainland China and other Asian countries considering e-cigarette regulation.