Smokeless study: Local nurse exploring e-cigarettes possibilities for smoking cessation
August 20, 2012
To participate in the electronic cigarette study, contact…
• Jona Ely, registered nurse practitioner
• Kinder Family Clinic, 595 Russell St. in Craig
• Deadline to enroll is Aug. 30
“I’m hoping to get this approved as a cessation method. If you get a good product it can work. I’ve had patients tell me e-cigarettes work better than every other cessation method they’ve tried in the past put together.”
— Jona Ely, a registered nurse practitioner at Kinder Family Clinic in Craig, about her clinical study researching the effects of electronic cigarettes on smoking cessation.
There's no doubt smoking is a dangerous habit and one that is linked to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths in the United States every year.
And despite the well-known consequences approximately 46.6 million Americans smoke cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Each year about half of the nation's smokers attempt to quit, many unsuccessfully.
High rates of relapse coupled with a recent Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment report ranking Moffat County as among the most unhealthy counties in the state has inspired one local nurse to study the benefits electronic cigarettes could have on smoking cessation.
"Our smoking rates are higher than both the state and national averages," said Jona Ely, a registered nurse practitioner at Kinder Family Clinic in Craig. "It's dismal the amount of people who quit smoking and then pick it back up in three months, six months or a year."
Ely, 43, is in the midst of earning a doctorate of nursing practice from the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley.
As a stipulation of her graduation requirements Ely must complete a clinical-based capstone research project.
She's decided to focus on smoking.
Though there have been significant advances in medications and nicotine replacement therapies smoking cessation rates have not changed in the last 50 years, Ely said.
She believes, with the help of community participants, she can help people finally kick the habit with electronic cigarettes.
"I'm hoping to get this approved as a cessation method," Ely said. "If you get a good product it can work. I've had patients tell me e-cigarettes work better than every other cessation method they've tried in the past put together."
For Ely, cigarette use is as much about the psychological, social and oral ritual as it is about a smoker's addiction to nicotine.
Though not good for a person's heart, Ely contends there are no studies linking nicotine to cancer or other respiratory problems that often plague longtime smokers.
Electronic cigarettes, Ely theorizes, would allow people to continue their smoking rituals and get the nicotine they desire without exposing themselves to the more than 7,000 carcinogens found in normal cigarettes.
"By using the electric cigarettes they not only don't have to give up their nicotine, they also don't have to give up the actions associated with smoking," Ely said.
Ely admits there is a certain skepticism surrounding electronic cigarettes.
There are more than 40 different brands currently on the market, but because they are not federally regulated Ely said it's difficult for buyers to distinguish the quality of one product over another.
"Not all e-cigarettes are created equal," she said. "People who have tried them and failed to quit smoking may have purchased brands that didn't have nicotine."
In an effort to maximize participant success Ely researched and has handpicked two brands of electronic cigarettes for the study, Blu Cigs and SmokeTip.
Starter kits retail between $59.95 and $79.95.
Replacement cartridges cost about $2, feature nicotine strengths ranging from zero to 16 milligrams and are good for about 250 puffs, making them significantly less expensive than a regular pack of cigarettes, Ely said.
"So my goal is to set people up with the electronic cigarette at their current dose, so they don't go through withdrawal, and then slowly cut down to placebo," Ely said.
On Friday Jane Hume visited Ely at the Kinder Family Clinic to learn more about the study.
A smoker for years, Hume said she has been using lozenges in her attempt to quit smoking.
"I have not actually used the electronic cigarette," she said. "But I came down here to get more information because I was just so excited Jona started this program, which I think is so important. I just think it's wonderful that she's doing it."
Ely began enrolling participants in the study on July 1. Currently there are 18 people in the study, but she is looking for a lot more.
There is no cost to participate, but people will need to buy their own electronic cigarette starter kits.
"If you don't want to quit smoking, then you're not going to," Ely said. "But if you just want to keep getting your nicotine this is a better way to do it. It's better for you and better for the people around you because there's no second hand smoke."
For more information on the study, contact Ely at Kinder Family Clinic at 826-0911.
Deadline to enroll in the study is Aug. 30.