Examining electronic cigarette use within a UK Stop Smoking Service
Lung cancer accounts for 6% of all mortalities in the UK1 and smoking cessation has been identified as the most effective strategy to reduce risk2. Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) may be an effective smoking cessation tool3, although they are not currently prescribed within UK Stop Smoking Services due to a lack of product regulation. This study utilises both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to ascertain a greater understanding of e-cig usage among Stop Smoking Service users. The research could help to inform the future development of Stop Smoking Services, as e-cigs may be considered a viable treatment option in future.
Smokers (n=300) were recruited from Roy Castle FagEnds (Liverpool Stop Smoking Service) and classified as either contemplating or actively quitting. Participants completed a questionnaire which examined smoking behaviours and e-cig usage. Univariate statistics were used to analyse the questionnaire data. A sub-sample (n=30) additionally undertook a telephone interview, exploring attitudes towards e-cigs and their effectiveness as a smoking cessation tool. Telephone interviews were transcribed and analysed using grounded theory techniques.
Preliminary results utilising the current sample (n=180) demonstrate that the majority of e-cig users were female (61%) and above 40 years old (70%). Most participants believed e-cigs to be less harmful than regular cigarettes (58%) and viewed them as a short-term stop-smoking aid (71%), rather than a long-term replacement for smoking. The telephone interviews revealed that participants were aware e-cigs but most disapproved of them due to their similarities with regular cigarettes e.g. maintenance of nicotine addiction.
This mixed-methods paper combines a quantitative overview of e-cig usage within a Stop-Smoking Service, with rich, qualitative data regarding experiences concerning e-cigs among the study population. Thus, a better understanding of e-cig access, usage, and attitudes, is achieved. The findings may be used to inform and direct future UK Stop-Smoking Service provision.
We would like to acknowledge the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group for their support with the project.
Office for National Statistics (2013). Deaths registered in England and Wales in 2010, by cause. London: Office for National Statistics.
Thun, M. J., DeLancey, J. O., Center, M .M., Jemal, A., & Ward, E .M. (2010). The global burden of cancer: priorities for prevention Carcinogenesis, 31(1), 100-110.
Bullen, C., Howe, C., Laugesen, M., McRobbie, H., Parag, V., Williman J., & Walker, N. (2013). The Lancet, 382(9905), 1629-1637.