Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are becoming increasingly popular with smokers worldwide. Users report buying them to help quit smoking, to reduce cigarette consumption, to relieve tobacco withdrawal symptoms, and to continue having a ‘smoking’ experience, but with reduced health risks. Research on e-cigarettes is urgently needed in order to ensure that the decisions of regulators, healthcare providers and consumers are based on science.
Methods ECLAT is a prospective 12-month randomized, controlled trial that evaluates smoking reduction/abstinence in 300 smokers not intending to quit experimenting two different nicotine strengths of a popular e-cigarette model (‘Categoria’; Arbi Group Srl, Italy) compared to its non-nicotine choice. GroupA (n = 100) received 7.2 mg nicotine cartridges for 12 weeks; GroupB (n = 100), a 6-week 7.2 mg nicotine cartridges followed by a further 6-week 5.4 mg nicotine cartridges; GroupC (n = 100) received no-nicotine cartridges for 12 weeks. The study consisted of nine visits during which cig/day use and exhaled carbon monoxide (eCO) levels were measured. Smoking reduction and abstinence rates were calculated. Adverse events and product preferences were also reviewed.
Declines in cig/day use and eCO levels were observed at each study visits in all three study groups (p<0.001 vs baseline), with no consistent differences among study groups. Smoking reduction was documented in 22.3% and 10.3% at week-12 and week-52 respectively. Complete abstinence from tobacco smoking was documented in 10.7% and 8.7% at week-12 and week-52 respectively. A substantial decrease in adverse events from baseline was observed and withdrawal symptoms were infrequently reported during the study. Participants’ perception and acceptance of the product under investigation was satisfactory.
In smokers not intending to quit, the use of e-cigarettes, with or without nicotine, decreased cigarette consumption and elicited enduring tobacco abstinence without causing significant side effects.
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01164072 NCT01164072