A doctor from Ottawa in Canada is launching a clinical trial to determine whether giving e-cigarettes to homeless people can help them quit smoking.
Research keeps showing that smoking is more prevalent amongst vulnerable groupsand those of a lower socio economic status. A study from 2013 looking at 858 drug users in inner-city Ottawa found that 96% of them were smokers. “It means the people who smoke today are mostly low-income, indigenous, homeless, poorly educated, marginalized,” said Dr. Smita Pakhalé.
Pakhalé, a research scientist and staff respirologist at Ottawa Hospital, will be carrying out a clinical trial aiming to determine whether e-cigarettes can be effective tools in helping such marginalized groups such as the homeless, quit smoking. The funding for this study comes from a $100,000 grant that the hospital received from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research earlier this year. To conduct this research, 200 homeless people from Ottawa and Toronto will be randomly selected for this controlled trial.
The participants will then be split in two groups, the first group will receive conventional NRTs such as nicotine patches and gum. The second group will be given electronic cigarettes, and both groups will have access to nursing care and peer support.
“We’re trying to understand if e-cigarettes can be in our toolbox since they have some features that could be attractive: They can deliver calculated doses of nicotine in an inhaled fashion and, secondly, they can give smokers that hand-to-mouth gesture that they crave,” said Dr. Pakhalé.