UKECRF Research Roundup

Posted 1st October 2020 by Dave Cross
The UK E-Cigarette Research Forum (UKECRF) is an initiative developed by Cancer Research UK in partnership with Public Health England (PHE) and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS). Among other things, it brings together genuine experts to look at research related to vaping and tobacco harm reduction.

The research briefing is part of a series of monthly updates aiming to provide an overview of new studies on electronic cigarettes. The briefings are intended for researchers, policy makers, health professionals and others who hold an interest in such matters.

Further information about the UKECRF can be found here: [link]

Association Between Youth Smoking, Electronic Cigarette Use, and Coronavirus Disease 2019 – [link]

The study found there was no association between ever and past 30-day smoking and reporting COVID-19 symptoms or testing positive. The researchers also found there was no association between ever exclusive use of e-cigarettes and reporting COVID-19 symptoms, however ever exclusive users were more likely to have been tested and to test positive. Past 30-day dual use of e-cigarettes and cigarettes was associated with an increased risk of reporting COVID-19 symptoms.

UKECRF said the team relied on cross sectional data, meaning it could not be used to establish causality. Also, being self-reported, it meant that recall bias and error could play a large factor. Lastly, the team did not adjust the data for all potential confounders which may affect COVID-19 infection.

UKECRF said: “There is almost no existing research on vaping and Covid-19 which may explain why this study received media attention with headlines such as ‘Vaping teens and young adults up to seven times more likely to contract Covid-19’. This is in contrast to smoking and Covid-19, where there are a number of studies to date.”


QuitNic: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Nicotine Vaping Products With Nicotine Replacement Therapy for Smoking Cessation Following Residential Detoxification – [link]

The study team said that their work showed that after 12 weeks, 14% of the vape group and 18% of the traditional NRT group “reported not smoking at all in the last 7 days.” The study was used by some in the media to say that nicotine replacement therapy works better than vaping.

The analysis worried that the sample size was small, the drop-out rate high, and the self-reported smoking abstinence had not been biochemically verified. “Whilst this study was small pilot with several limitations,” said UKECRF, “the findings indicate that e-cigarette use for smoking cessation in this group should be explored further.

Youth vaping and smoking and parental vaping: a panel survey – [link]

The team concluded: “While measured confounding accounted for much of the associations between youth vaping and youth smoking, indicating support for underlying propensities, our estimates suggested residual effects that could only be explained away by considerable unmeasured confounding or by smoking leading to vaping. Estimated effects of youth vaping on youth smoking were stronger among the general youth population than among the small group of youth who actually vaped. Associations of parental vaping with youth smoking and vaping were either explained by measured confounding or could be relatively easily explained by unmeasured confounding.”

UKECRF commented: “The estimates assume a directional relationship from vaping to smoking, however estimates could be explained by reverse causality. Vaping status was determined by asking ‘do you ever use e-cigarettes’, meaning that participants who had used them once or infrequently may have been included. This also does not account for motivations or patterns of vaping. The overall prevalence of smoking and vaping in participants was very low. As such, confidence intervals were wide which may have affected the accuracy of estimates.”

The findings didn’t support concerns that parents using e-cigarettes to quit smoking could directly contribute to children taking up smoking or vaping.”


Vaping and harm reduction studies this month:

Patterns of use




Harms and harm reduction



 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
Legion of Vapers