The public health community is divided on the value and efficacy of vaping devices for smoking cessation, but policy decisions need to be guided by evidence. This research will examine vaporised nicotine product (VNP) use, safety, and efficacy for smoking cessation compared to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) among low-socioeconomic status (SES) smokers.
Method/Design: A total of 868 adult daily smokers in receipt of a government welfare payment (proxy for low-SES) who are willing to quit using NRT or VNP will be eligible to participate. Participants will be recruited from the Sydney and wider catchment area via online and print media study advertisements. All consented smokers will be referred to an independent contract research organisation to complete data collection at baseline and 7-months post-randomisation. All screening and consent, product distribution and safety check-in calls will be conducted in-house at NDARC. Participants in the VNP arm will receive two VNPs plus 8-weeks supply of 18mg/L nicotine liquid (menthol, tobacco, strawberry flavour). Participants in the NRT arm will receive 8-weeks supply of 4mg nicotine gum or lozenges (up to 15 pieces per day). A clinician will oversee the safe prescribing of medications. The primary outcome will be biochemically verified 6-month continuous abstinence.
Implications of the research: The findings from this trial are vital for informing policy makers around the world around the safety and efficacy of VNP for smoking cessation among priority populations. Finding acceptable methods for smoking cessation to address the social context and social gradient in smoking is needed and this study may help to meet this end point.
Dr Veronica Boland, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), UNSW Sydney
Veronica has worked in the nicotine and tobacco research area for more than six years and was successfully awarded her PhD in 2018. Her research is focussed on smoking and social disadvantage where her work is embedded with high consumer engagement and aims to improve delivery of new and enhanced evidence-based cessation strategies for disadvantaged smokers. Continuing this focus, Veronica recently commenced a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship on a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded randomised controlled trial (RCT) at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney. This RCT aims to compare continuous smoking abstinence rates and short-term safety between nicotine replacement therapy and vaporised nicotine products among low-socioeconomic status smokers.