UKECRF Research Roundup

Posted 18th December 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 UKECRF [link] has looked at another overwhelming number of vape-related studies and passed comment on a select few. Its suggested reading list “does not cover every e-cigarette-related study published”.

Effect of e-Cigarettes Plus Counselling vs Counselling Alone on Smoking Cessation: A Randomized Clinical Trial [link]

The authors concluded: “Among adults motivated to quit smoking, nicotine e-cigarettes plus counselling vs counselling alone significantly increased point prevalence abstinence at 12 weeks. However, the difference was no longer significant at 24 weeks, and trial interpretation is limited by early termination and inconsistent findings for nicotine and non-nicotine e-cigarettes, suggesting further research is needed.”

UKECRF noted the intended primary outcome was the same as a recent UK trial, but the chosen device became unavailable when only 77% of the target number of participants were randomised. “This smaller sample would have left the trial underpowered to test the original primary outcome.”

Participants who received the nicotine containing e-cigarette were significantly more likely to quit than the group who only received behavioural support (21.9% vs 9.1%).”

This was the first trial of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation conducted in North America, and UKECRF says the results “will feed into future Cochrane reviews to bring together a larger body of evidence on vaping for smoking cessation”.

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A cluster feasibility trial to explore the uptake and use of e-cigarettes versus usual care offered to smokers attending homeless centres in Great Britain [link]

The second study this month was a feasibility study of offering e-cigarettes through homeless services in England and Scotland. UKECRF noted that “over half of the smokers approached to participate in the study did take part, and of these 59% remained engaged and completed the final follow up at 6 months.”

UKECRF observed that “participants responded positively” and that “retention was higher amongst the smokers who received an e-cigarette starter pack than those who did not.”

It stated: “The researchers were able to demonstrate that a range of other data could be collected that would be needed in a future trial, and this larger study is now being planned.”

Responsibility, normalisation and negotiations of harm: E-cigarette users' opinions and experiences of vaping around children [link]

Ward, Dawkins, Holland and Notley concluded: “Vaping is likely to be role modelled within the community and home despite attempts by e-cigarette users to conceal the behaviour. The ambivalent contextualisation of e-cigarettes means that e-cigarette users may lack a clear narrative to draw on when discussing vaping with children. Public health guidance for vaping around children could be helpful, but to be most effective, should take into consideration users' vaping identity.”

The study looked at how people vape and how they talk about vaping where children are or might be present. UKECRF said: “For those interested, it is well worth reading the article for more details. Findings made clear that vaping around children was more complex than views around smoking with children present where harms were clearly understood and accepted.”

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Associations between reasons for vaping and current vaping and smoking status: Evidence from a UK based cohort [link]

The University of Bristol academics concluded: “Intention to quit appears important for young adults to stop smoking using e-cigarettes. Public health strategies that encourage vaping specifically for smoking cessation may encourage quitting among young adults.”

UKECRF found a number of shortcomings:

  • Participants self-reported all data meaning results may be subject to recall bias.
  • The reasons for vaping were selected from an exhaustive list meaning other potential reasons may have been omitted. “Flavours” were not an option meaning their role in smoking cessation could not be assessed.
  • The age of participants meant that e-cigarettes were not widely available when they were 15-16 (when initiation generally peaks). Therefore, the results may not be generalisable to young adults today.
  • Due to small numbers of never smokers who had tried vaping by 23 years, analyses were restricted to ever smokers. Therefore, the study could not explore any associations between reasons for vaping and continued vaping and smoking.


Patterns of use




Harms and harm reduction



 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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