Vaping high-strength nicotine can help adults with schizophrenia stop smoking traditional cigarettes, according to a new study.
Between 60% and 90% of people with schizophrenia smoke, compared to 15% to 24% of the general population, the researchers noted in the report published March 16 in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
Smoking is the main reason for a 15- to 25-year gap in lifespan between users of mental health services and the general population, according to study author Riccardo Polosa. He is a professor of internal medicine at the University of Catania, in Italy.
"This study demonstrates that switching to high-strength nicotine e-cigarettes is a feasible highly effective smoking cessation method for smokers who have schizophrenia," Polosa said in a journal news release. "And it improves their quality of life, too."
For the study, Polosa's team assessed the effects of vaping high-strength nicotine in 40 adults with schizophrenia. All smoked traditional cigarettes and had no plans to cut back or quit.
For 12 weeks, participants used e-cigarettes loaded with 5% nicotine pods.
By the end of that time, 40% had stopped using traditional cigarettes. And nine out of 10 had a sustained 50% reduction in smoking or had quit conventional cigarettes altogether. Median cigarette use fell from 25 to six cigarettes a day. (Median means half fell more, half fell less.)
After six months, 35% of participants had stopped smoking conventional cigarettes while continuing to vape, and 57.5% had reduced their cigarette use by more than half, the findings showed.
In addition, the participants' average blood pressure, heart rate and weight decreased over the initial 12 weeks, the researchers found.
By the end of the study period, nearly 62% of participants said they felt more awake, less irritable, less hungry and better able to concentrate.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more on schizophrenia.
SOURCE: Nicotine & Tobacco Research, news release, March 16, 2021