Smokers with pain are more likely to report use of e-cigarettes and other nicotine products

Jessica M. Powers, Bryan W. Heckman, Lisa R. LaRowe, Joseph W. Ditre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Pain and tobacco cigarette smoking frequently co-occur, and smokers report using cigarettes to selfmedicate pain. Despite the growing popularity of e-cigarettes and alternative nicotine products, no research has examined their use as a function of pain status. The goal of this study was to test cross-sectional relations between the presence of pain and current use of e-cigarettes, lifetime polynicotine use, and lifetime use of individual nicotine products. The sample was comprised of current daily smokers (N = 301) who were recruited to participate in a web-based longitudinal study examining predictors of cessation milestones. Results indicated that smokers who endorsed past-2-week significant pain (vs. no past-2-week pain) were 3 times more likely to endorse current e-cigarette use, reported having used a greater number of nicotine products in their lifetime, and were nearly 3 times more likely to endorse lifetime polynicotine use. In terms of individual products, smokers with pain were approximately 4 times as likely to have tried e-cigarettes and 7 times more likely to have tried cigars. This is the first study to demonstrate that smokers who endorse significant pain are also more likely to endorse use of e-cigarettes and other combustible nicotine products. Future research is needed to examine polynicotine use in relation to pain reporting among more varied samples of smokers and nonsmokers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-608
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • E-cigarettes
  • Nicotine
  • Pain
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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