Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are used to aid smoking cessation attempts; however, many smokers continue to smoke while using an ENDS (dual use). Although uncertainty remains regarding whether specific ENDS patterns hinder or support successful smoking cessation, recent advances in “smart” technology allow passive and active recording of behaviors in real time, enabling more detailed insights into how smoking and vaping patterns may coevolve. We describe patterns of ENDS initiation, and subsequent use, including any changes in cigarette consumption, among daily smokers using a “smart” ENDS (S-ENDS) to quit smoking.
An 8-week long mixed-methods feasibility study used Bluetooth-enabled S-ENDS that passively recorded real-time device use by participants (n = 11). Daily surveys administered via smartphones collected data on self-reported cigarette consumption.
All 11 participants were dual users, at least initially, during their quit attempt. We observed three provisional vaping and smoking patterns: immediate and intensive ENDS initiation coupled with immediate, dramatic, and sustained smoking reduction, leading to smoking abstinence; gradual ENDS uptake with gradual smoking reductions, leading to daily dual use throughout the study period; and ENDS experimentation with return to exclusive smoking. For six participants, the patterns observed in week 1 were similar to the vaping and smoking patterns observed throughout the rest of the study period.
Technological advances now allow fine-grained description of ENDS use and smoking patterns. Larger and longer studies describing smoking-to-vaping patterns, and estimating associations with smoking outcomes, could inform ENDS-specific cessation advice promoting full transition from smoking to exclusive ENDS use.
The use of an S-ENDS that recorded real-time device use among daily smokers engaged in a quit attempt provides insight into patterns and trajectories of dual use (continuing to smoke while using ENDS), and the possible associations between ENDS initiation, subsequent use, and smoking cessation outcomes. Such work could support more targeted cessation counseling and technical advice for smokers using ENDS to quit smoking, reduce the risk of users developing long-term dual use patterns, and enhance the contributions ENDS may make to reducing smoking prevalence.