GSU advancing research on impact of e-cigarettes as teen usage skyrockets

By David Pendered

Researchers at Georgia State University are helping to explore the health effects and addictive nature of electronic cigarettes at a time the government is trying to curb the spiraling use of the devices among the nation’s high school students and adults.

vaping, nyc

New York City was an arguable leader of the vaping trend, at least until indoor vaping was banned in 2017. Credit: hookedsober.com

The use of e-cigarettes rose from 1.5 percent to 16 percent among high school students from 2011 to 2015. Among middle school students, the usage rate rose from 0.6 percent to 5.3 percent, according to a report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

At GSU, one recently concluded year-lomg study determined that smokers who shifted to e-cigarettes were no more likely to quit smoking than smokers who didn’t use the devices, also known as ENDS, for electronic nicotine delivery systems, according to a statement:

  • “Absent any meaningful changes, ENDS use among adult smokers is unlikely to be a sufficient solution to obtaining a meaningful increase in population quit rates,” the authors wrote in a newly released article in the journal PLOS ONE. “We observed no instance where ENDS users were more likely to quit (smoking cigarettes) than non-ENDS users.”

The second study has just been funded with a $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The lead is GSU economist Michael Pesko, who’s to be joined by partners from Cornell University, Temple University, the University of Kentucky and the University of Pennsylvania.

The project has four primary goals, according to a statement:

  • Study the effects on sales of regulations on pricing and access;
  • Evaluate the public perception of the safety of e-cigarettes;
  • The effect of e-cigarette regulations on cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco;
  • The effect of e-cig regulations on sales of traditional nicotine replacement therapies, including gum and patches.

The lead author of the completed study, Scott Weaver, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, said the devices don’t do enough to offset the pleasure that smokers get from nicotine.

“Many smokers are using ENDS in their smoking quit attempts, but these devices may not be providing a sufficiently satisfying nicotine delivery and overall user experience to completely supplant their smoking,” Weaver said.

Vaping

Blowing big clouds is part of the culture of vaping, as seen in this snapshot from behind of the scenes of the X Games. File/Credit: mashable.com

An online provider of ENDS mirrors Weaver’s observations in its advertising material:

  • “The trick to quitting smoking with e-cigarettes is to do things slowly. I found the faster I tried to quit, the worse my attempt was. The third time I quit with e-cigarettes, I only spent three or four weeks on the various strengths before sliding down to the next one. Within five months I had gone from smoking to zero strength, and within three more months, I was back to smoking.”

As one comment on the page observed:

  • “I’ve been vaping now for about 2 weeks. I did slip back to smoking regular tobacco for a couple of days, but now I’m committed, and of course I know that it’s well worth knocking the habit, as it’s a nasty one that only robs you from your health. So I am hitting the vape hard this afternoon in faith that if I don’t light up today I can resist the urge to light on tomorrow as well as after that.”

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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