Stop Smoking Practitioners’ Understanding of E-Cigarettes’ Use and Efficacy with Particular Reference to Vapers’ Socioeconomic Status

Summary of Study

Bottom Line: Stop Smoking Services practitioners (SSS) are becoming more positive about e-cigarettes. SSS clients who use e-cigarettes are usually one of the groups that have the highest smoking quit rates, suggesting the positive benefits of e-cigarettes as an aid to quitting should be promoted among SSS practitioners.

In a series of four online surveys, SSS practitioners are becoming more positive about e-cigarettes: Practitioners were significantly more positive towards e-cigarettes in 2016 than in the other surveys (42% [2016], 24% [2014], 26% [2013] and 15% [2011] strongly agreed or agreed that e-cigarettes are a good thing). 

In 2016, compared to 2014, practitioners were significantly more likely to recommend e-cigarettes to all clients (15% vs 5%), current users (23% vs 18%), clients cutting down (18% vs 12%) (including cutting down to stop (18% vs 12%) and clients who had made many quit attempts (30% vs 20%). Moreover, there were significantly fewer practitioners who reported not recommending e-cigarettes to any clients (32% in 2016 vs 56% in 2014).

Reported use of e-cigarettes among SSS clients was low (about 3%) despite higher quit rates (63% of clients reported being quit at four week follow-up, compared with 51% overall). Low use of e-cigarettes by clients and practitioner opinions suggest that further education of SSS staff is needed if they are to adopt the current service recommendations about e-cigarettes.

Where socioeconomic differences in e-cigarettes’ efficacy for quitting were identified, affluent and working smokers were advantaged. Practitioners most often stated that clients with routine and manufacturing occupations were most likely to use e-cigarettes (34% vs 23% clients with professional, managerial or intermediate, and 24% unemployed and long-term sick and disabled).  Unemployed and long-term sick and disabled clients were considered to be the least likely to quit using e-cigarettes (20% vs 7% R&M and 5% PMI). The lowest and highest socio-economic status (SES) groups significantly differed. However, over 50% of respondents indicated that there was no difference or that they did not know if there was a difference in use and efficacy.

Four main themes for this SES differential stood out. Of the sample, 6.4% said they thought that SES differences were due to low income – inability to pay for the best quality e-cigarettes and accompanying paraphernalia meant that low-income people were less likely to quit with e-cigarettes. Differences in cognition were suggested by 5% practitioners leading to reduced quitting among low SES groups. These differences included poorer information collation and understanding of information. Additionally, some practitioners suggested that low SES smokers sometimes had less willpower and motivation to quit smoking. The fourth theme was time activity. An SSS practitioner suggested that Routine & Manufacturing occupations’ working hours were more often geared towards smoking (and now vaping) breaks.

Read the full report here.

Feature Charticle

Stop Smoking Practitioners' Views of E-Cigarettes 2016 Compared with Previous SurveysJournal of Smoking Cessation

Findings:

  • Stop Smoking Services practitioners (SSS) are becoming more positive about e-cigarettes.
  • Practitioners were significantly more positive towards e-cigarettes in 2016 than in the other surveys (42% [2016], 24% [2014], 26% [2013] and 15% [2011] strongly agreed or agreed that e-cigarettes are a good thing).
  • SSS clients who use e-cigarettes are usually one of the groups that have the highest smoking quit rates, suggesting the positive benefits of e-cigarettes as an aid to quitting should be promoted among SSS practitioners.