Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Pilot Study Demonstrates Greater than 50% Reduction in Smoking Among Half of Patients with Schizophrenia Treated with Electronic Cigarettes

A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reports the results of a pilot test of electronic cigarettes among 14 patients with schizophrenia who were heavy smokers.

The results were as follows: "Sustained 50% reduction in the number of cig/day at week-52 was shown in 7/14 (50%) participants; their median of 30 cig/day decreasing significantly to 15 cig/day (p = 0.018). Sustained smoking abstinence at week-52 was observed in 2/14 (14.3%) participants. Combined sustained 50% reduction and smoking abstinence was shown in 9/14 (64.3%) participants."

The Rest of the Story

While this study is small, the results are quite striking. Among a very difficult population of smokers with schizophrenia, a trial of electronic cigarettes was able to achieve a dramatic result: a sustained 50% reduction in cigarette consumption at 52 weeks for half of the treated patients, and complete smoking cessation among an additional 14%.

These results suggest that electronic cigarettes may be a particularly promising innovation for the most difficult treatment situations, giving practitioners the first viable option for smoking cessation in these populations. Of course further research is necessary to confirm these findings in larger studies. But the initial findings are quite promising.

Hopefully, research like this will convince the FDA that it would be devastating to the public's health to issue deeming regulations for electronic cigarettes that place these products under the same regulatory framework as tobacco cigarettes. Clearly, a separately carved out framework is necessary.

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