ASPPH logo


Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Georgia State Study: Former Smokers with Mental Illness More Likely to Vape

Former smokers who have mental health conditions are more likely to have used electronic nicotine delivery systems than those who do not, according to a recent study led by tobacco researchers at the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.

[Photo: Dr. Claire Adams Spears]

While researchers found no difference in the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems, such as e-cigarettes, among current smokers with and without mental health conditions, there was a significantly higher likelihood of use among former smokers with mental health conditions. Former smokers with mental health conditions were also twice as likely to have switched to electronic nicotine delivery systems (also referred to as ENDS) in a past attempt to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

These findings may inform further studies to determine whether electronic nicotine delivery systems could help smokers with mental illness quit, the researchers said.

Researchers from Georgia State University’s Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science, housed within the School of Public Health, assessed data from 6,051 participants collected through the 2015 Tobacco Products and Risk Perceptions Survey. Participants were asked about their smoking and vaping habits as well as their interest in electronic nicotine delivery systems.

The findings are published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in the article “Use of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems among Adults with Mental health Conditions, 2015.” The study’s lead author is Dr. Claire Adams Spears, assistant professor of Health Promotion and Behavior at Georgia State.

The study also found that among former smokers who had not tried e-cigarettes, those with mental health conditions may be more susceptible to future use of the products. For example, former smokers with a mental health condition were three times more likely to say that they would probably or definitely try ENDS if offered by a friend, compared to those without mental health conditions.

“The potential advantage of ENDS for cessation purposes should be balanced with the risk of attracting former smokers with mental health conditions to ENDS,” the researchers concluded.

The study’s authors also include Ms. Dina Jones, a graduate research assistant in the Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science; Dr. Scott Weaver, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics; Dr. Terry Pechacek, professor of health management and policy; and Dr. Michael Eriksen, dean of the School of Public Health.

Georgia State’s Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science, also known as TCORS, was established in 2013 and takes a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the human and economic factors that contribute to tobacco use. The Center seeks to generate research to inform the regulation of tobacco products to protect public health.