A campus smoking lab studies the effects of e-cigs | FIU News

by Maya Washburn

Is vaping really a better option than traditional smoking? CRF researchers want to know.

FRC Tobacco Clinical Research Laboratory examines the addictive and toxic profile of new methods of tobacco consumption and ways to reduce their harms. With several newly funded projects, the lab has just begun recruitment efforts for a variety of e-cigarette studies.

These studies aim to provide public health practitioners, policymakers, and regulators with evidence that will enable them to respond to the growth of e-cigarette use among youth in the United States and reduce its harms.

“Our research will help create evidence to inform regulatory and policy solutions to the tobacco epidemic, particularly those related to emerging tobacco products popular among youth such as e-cigarettes,” said Wasim Maziak, who serves as the principal investigator in the laboratory.

In the upcoming new nicotine reduction study, participants will smoke e-cigarettes throughout three 60-minute sessions, with the nicotine content starting at 5% and decreasing each time. Five percent is the standard amount of nicotine in a Juul capsule.

the the researchers plan to study the effects in up to 210 subjects between the ages of 21 and 25 who have a history of e-cigarette use.

Researchers in the lab will look at both objective and subjective data to determine how the decrease in nicotine affects users. The four main areas of data that will be studied are user perception, toxicity, lung function and addiction.

Members of the research team, from left to right: Katherine Pita, Wei Li, Rime Jebai and Tarana Ferdous

Katherine Pita, lab manager and CRF alumnus, said the lab aims to be a comfortable environment for participants to replicate a relaxing environment in which someone can smoke at home.

“We understand that people come from different backgrounds…we strive to ensure that lab procedures are minimally intrusive for participants,” Pita said.

The researchers pointed out that there are too many unknowns about the long-term dangers of e-cigarette use because it is a new phenomenon.

“Recent studies have shown that e-cigarettes can have effects on multiple organs in the body,” said PhD student Rime Jebai. “They could have adverse effects on cardiovascular, respiratory, mental or reproductive health.”

Ph.D. student Wei Li pointed out that e-cigarettes are particularly dangerous for teenagers, as they can have an impact on brain development. E-cigarettes were the most used tobacco product by middle and high school students in the United States in 2020, according to the CDC.

“For many young people who have never used tobacco products, e-cigarettes are attractive because of the flavors, design and marketing as harmless products,” Li said. use, and when they want to get more nicotine, they can turn to cigarettes.”

Pita pointed out that while e-cigarettes are considered a healthier alternative to cigarettes, there are still many unknown effects, and the lab aims to study some of these effects. Jebai hopes the results of the lab’s studies will guide policymakers’ decisions on e-cigarette regulation.

“The findings will help regulate tobacco use to reduce tobacco-related morbidity and mortality,” Jebai said. “This study will focus on policies regarding the strength of nicotine and the tobacco product.”

Maziak, a professor of epidemiology, started the lab in 2017 and it became the first clinical lab to research emerging methods of tobacco consumption, such as hookah and e-cigarettes, in South Florida.

The lab, housed in University Health Center 3 on the Modesto Maidique campus, has since gained increasing support from federal agencies, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Those interested in participating in the ongoing study should contact 305-348-1691 or [email protected]

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