A new study from Italy has found that 40 percent of participating adults with schizophrenia spectrum disorders stopped smoking traditional cigarettes after 12 weeks of using Juul products. These findings are significant because smoking prevalence among people with schizophrenia is at 60 to 90 percent.
“Smoking is the primary cause of the 15-25 years mortality gap between users of mental health services and the general population,” said Riccardo Polosa, one of the lead researchers. “This study demonstrates that switching to high-strength nicotine e-cigarettes is a feasible, highly effective smoking cessation method for smokers who have schizophrenia. And it improves their quality of life too!”
The study—conducted in collaboration with the University of Stirling, City University of New York and Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research—enrolled 40 adult smokers with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, as reported.
Aged between 22 and 65, the participants all said at the outset that they did not intend to quit or reduce their smoking. They were each given a free starter kit—containing one Juul device with a 5 percent nicotine tobacco flavored pod and a charger. In addition, participants were asked to maintain a daily diary to record product use, number of tobacco cigarettes smoked and any adverse side effects.
Among the study’s key findings:
Researchers observed [either] an overall, sustained 50 percent reduction in smoking or complete smoking abstinence in 92.5 percent of participants at the end of 12 weeks.
Researchers observed an overall 75 percent reduction in median daily cigarette consumption, from 25 to six, by the end of the 12 weeks.
After six months, 35 percent of participants had completely stopped smoking conventional tobacco cigarettes, while continuing to use e-cigarettes.
After six months, 57.5 percent of participants reduced their cigarette usage by over 50 percent.
Participants’ mean blood pressure, heart rate and weight measurably decreased between the start of the study and the 12-week follow up.
Positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia were not significantly different after using e-cigarettes throughout the duration of the study.
At the end of the study 61.9 percent of participants reported feeling more awake, less irritable, and experiencing greater concentration and reduced hunger.
These findings are remarkable and should give hope to the international mental health community that has essentially given up on helping smokers with schizophrenia.