Brian S. Williams, MD; Megan Piper, PhD; Thomas M. Piasecki, PhD; Jesse Kaye, PhD; Michael Fiore, MD, MPH, MBA
Introduction: E-cigarette use has been increasing for years with a limited understanding of how to help users quit. Quit lines are a potential resource for e-cigarette cessation. Our objective was to characterize e-cigarette users who call state quit lines and to examine trends in e-cigarette use by callers.
Methods: This retrospective study examined data from adult callers to the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line from July 2016 through November 2020, including demographics, tobacco product use, motivations for use, and intentions to quit. Descriptive analyses were performed by age group with pairwise comparisons.
Results: A total of 26,705 encounters were handled by the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line during the study period. E-cigarettes were used by 11% of callers. Young adults aged 18-24 had the highest rates of use at 30%, and their use rose significantly from 19.6% in 2016 to 39.6% in 2020. E-cigarette use among young adult callers peaked at 49.7% in 2019, coinciding with an outbreak of e-cigarette-related lung injury. Only 53.5% of young adult callers used e-cigarettes to “cut down on other tobacco,” compared to 76.3% of adult callers aged 45-64 (P < 0.05). Of all callers using e-cigarettes, 80% were interested in quitting.
Conclusions: E-cigarette use among callers to the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line has increased, driven largely by young adults. Most e-cigarette users who call the quit line want to quit. Thus, quit lines can serve an important role in e-cigarette cessation. A better understanding of strategies to help e-cigarette users quit is needed, particularly in young adult callers.