A pilot study on electronic cigarette use and their impact on smoking and quitting in youth

Grant Data
Project Title
A pilot study on electronic cigarette use and their impact on smoking and quitting in youth
Principal Investigator
Dr Wang, Man Ping   (Principal investigator)
Dr Fong Daniel Yee Tak   (Co-Investigator)
Dr Li William Ho Cheung   (Co-Investigator)
Professor Lam Tai Hing   (Co-Investigator)
Start Date
Completion Date
Conference Title
Presentation Title
e-cigarette, adolescents
Epidemiology,Population Health
Block Grant Earmarked for Research (104)
HKU Project Code
Grant Type
Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research
Funding Year
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.