Declining Rates of Health Problems Associated with Crack Smoking During the Expansion of Crack Pipe Distribution in Vancouver, Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Faculty/Staff
Final version published as: 

Prangnell, A., Dong, H., Daly, P. et al. Declining rates of health problems associated with crack smoking during the expansion of crack pipe distribution in Vancouver, Canada. BMC Public Health 17, 163 (2017). DOI: 10.1186/s12889-017-4099-9.

Date created: 
2017-02-03
Keywords: 
Crack smoking
Crack pipe acquisition
Harm reduction
Abstract: 

Background  Crack cocaine smoking is associated with an array of negative health consequences, including cuts and burns from unsafe pipes, and infectious diseases such as HIV. Despite the well-established and researched harm reduction programs for injection drug users, little is known regarding the potential for harm reduction programs targeting crack smoking to reduce health problems from crack smoking. In the wake of recent crack pipe distribution services expansion, we utilized data from long running cohort studies to estimate the impact of crack pipe distribution services on the rates of health problems associated with crack smoking in Vancouver, Canada.

Methods  Data were derived from two prospective cohort studies of community-recruited people who inject drugs in Vancouver between December 2005 and November 2014. We employed multivariable generalized estimating equations to examine the relationship between crack pipe acquisition sources and self-reported health problems associated with crack smoking (e.g., cut fingers/sores, coughing blood) among people reported smoking crack.

Results  Among 1718 eligible participants, proportions of those obtaining crack pipes only through health service points have significantly increased from 7.2% in 2005 to 62.3% in 2014 (p < 0.001), while the rates of reporting health problems associated with crack smoking have significantly declined (p < 0.001). In multivariable analysis, compared to those obtaining pipes only through other sources (e.g., on the street, self-made), those acquiring pipes through health service points only were significantly less likely to report health problems from smoking crack (adjusted odds ratio: 0.82; 95% confidence interval: 0.73–0.93).

Conclusions  These findings suggest that the expansion of crack pipe distribution services has likely served to reduce health problems from smoking crack in this setting. They provide evidence supporting crack pipe distribution programs as a harm reduction service for crack smokers.

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Article
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