Assessing the Effect of Nicotine Reduction on ENDS User's Addiction and Exposures

  • End date
    Aug 31, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Florida International University
Updated on 4 October 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers


The rapid increase of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) use by young people in the US and their potential to harm health, cause addiction, and serve as a risk for cigarette smoking or dual-use is alarming. The epidemic of ENDS use among young people in the US has been associated with the rise in popularity of ENDS products that are very efficient in delivering high doses of nicotine to users. Therefore, the investigators propose to study the effects of nicotine reduction (NR) on young ENDS users as a potential regulatory strategy to reduce the addictiveness and use of ENDS. The proposed studies are directly responsive to research priories identified by the FDA and specified in this RFA under Addiction; studying the "Impact of changes in tobacco product characteristics (e.g. nicotine formulation) on dependence". This project aims to provide an overview of this project's rationale significance divided into 1) scientific rationale and regulatory implications; 2) the need to respond to the rising trend of ENDS use among young people in the US; 3) the importance of reducing the addictiveness of ENDS; 4) the strength of our clinical and analytical lab approach for regulatory purposes; and 5) the strengths and weaknesses in the rigor of prior research about NR for ENDS.


The use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS or e-cigarettes) has reached epidemic levels among young people in the United States (US). ENDS emit toxic substances, including nicotine that irreversibly affects the developing brain and leads to dependence and increased risk of cigarette smoking initiation. Evidence indicates that young people using ENDS are likely to accelerate use and become nicotine dependent. Some of the most popular ENDS among youth (e.g. JUUL with 5% nicotine liquid) deliver in one cartridge a nicotine dose equal to an entire pack of cigarettes, and many users are unaware of this substantial exposure and the related risk of addiction. On the other hand, nicotine reduction (NR) has been considered by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an important strategy to limit the addictiveness and use of tobacco products.

Now that the FDA regulates ENDS under the "deeming rule", such a strategy can be considered for these emerging tobacco products. However, the investigators still lack evidence on the expected effects of a range of NR levels on ENDS users at different stages of use trajectory. Using clinical and analytical lab methods, the investigators plan to compare among 5% nicotine ENDS users the effect of partial (3%) or total (nicotine-free, 0%) NR on users' dependence, satisfaction, clinical (e.g. BP, oximetry, lung functions, symptoms), puffing behavior, and exposure to toxicants. The investigators will recruit current ENDS users (n=120; 21-35 yrs), for a 2X2 within subject crossover lab study. The nicotine conditions (5%, 3%) or (0%,5%) x 2 times (pre-post) are the within-subject factors.

Therefore, the study is divided into 2 parts, whereby the first part will be 2x2 comparing NJOY 5% and 3% to test the effects of partial nicotine reduction, and the second part will be using the NIDA Standardized Research Electronic Cigarette (SREC) for Clinical Research 5% and 0% (placebo), to test the effect of the total reduction using the same pods and juices from the same manufacturer.

The investigators hypothesize that NR will be associated with less satisfaction, withdrawal suppression, and intention to use and that such an effect will be more pronounced in total compared to partial NR and among high compared to low-dependency users. The proposed studies aim to answer 3 main regulatory questions: 1) is NR a promising regulatory option to reduce ENDS addictiveness and use; 2) what is the effect of partial vs. total NR on compensatory puffing and exposure to nicotine and respiratory toxicants, and 3) what is the effect of NR on ENDS users at different stages of their use. Combined, these studies will give direct and standardized evidence on the potential of NR regulations to limit the addictiveness and use of ENDS, and to help predict any potential side effects of NR on ENDS users' exposure to harmful toxicants.

Condition Electronic Cigarette Use
Treatment 5% nicotine, 3% nicotine, 0% nicotine
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05205382
SponsorFlorida International University
Last Modified on4 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Generally healthy individuals (determined by physical examination)
Age of 21-35 years
Is willing to provide informed consent
Is willing to attend the lab as required by the study protocol
Electronic cigarette users (defined as using electronic cigarette either daily or occasionally in the past 30 days)
Have abstained from electronic cigarette use for 12 hours prior to each session

Exclusion Criteria

Report smoking cigarettes regularly (> 5 cigarettes/month in the past year)
Report regular use of any other tobacco/nicotine product (e.g.,hookah, pipes, cigars) in the past year
Women who are breast-feeding or test positive for pregnancy (by urinalysis at screening)
Individuals with self-reported history of chronic disease or current psychiatric conditions
Individuals with history of or active cardiovascular disease, low or high blood pressure, seizures, and regular use of prescription medications (other than vitamins or birth control)
Individuals that report current THC (marijuana) smoking/vaping
Individuals that report the use of non-commercial (i.e., street) e-cigarette liquid or products
Individuals that report current EVALI or COVID-19 related symptoms (i.e., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills, or weight loss)
Individuals that have or have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days
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