Health & Studies

UKECRF Research Round-Up

The UK E-Cigarette Research Forum has released its latest quarterly update which aims to provide an overview of new studies looking at electronic cigarettes and vaping

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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. It has released its latest research round-up.

UKECRF says: “The briefings are intended for researchers, policy makers, health professionals and others who may not have time to keep up to date with new findings and would like to access a summary that goes beyond the study abstract.

“The studies selected do not cover every e-cigarette-related study published each quarter. Instead, they include high profile studies most relevant to key themes identified by the UK Electronic Cigarette Research Forum; including efficacy and safety, smoking cessation, population level impact and marketing.”

Youth use of e-liquid flavours

A study conducted by a team including Caitlin Notley, Sharon Cox, and Martin Dockrell reviewed literature to see if the use of e-liquid flavours by young people was associated with uptake or cessation of both regular vaping and tobacco smoking.

They found young people who had vaped were more likely to use flavoured e-liquids than non-flavoured liquids, fruit and sweet were generally preferred to tobacco or menthol flavours, and as well as the flavours themselves, the names, descriptions and packaging designs were reported to be attractive.

They concluded: “Flavours may be an important motivator for e-cigarette uptake, but the role of flavours in tobacco smoking uptake or cessation is unclear. The quality of the evidence on use of e-cigarette flavours by young people is low overall.”

Effects of electronic cigarette e-liquid flavouring on cigarette craving

The University of Bristol study also included the assistance of Public Health England’s Martin Dockrell. They looked at the possible unintended consequences (reduced appeal and effectiveness of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation) of e-liquid flavour restrictions.

They found e-liquid flavouring did not appear to have an effect on average cigarette craving, peak cigarette craving, or cue-elicited cigarette craving.

The team concluded: “We did not find evidence to suggest that nicotine-containing fruit/sweet-flavoured and unflavoured e-liquids have different effects on cigarette cravings after 1 week of use. Further research is needed to establish if differences emerge over longer periods of exposure and extend to smoking cessation outcomes.”

Patient and clinician perceptions on e- cigarettes for smoking reduction in UK general practice, a qualitative interview study

This University of Oxford randomised controlled trial saw primary care clinicians offering free e-cigarettes and encouraged people with chronic diseases who were unwilling to stop smoking to switch to vaping. They interviewed clinicians and patients to understand how to adopt harm reduction in routine practice.

They interviewed the clinicians and patients to shed light on any concerns and barriers to using e-cig kits for smoking cessation in the future.

The study concluded: “Although clinicians in this study were prepared to offer e-cigarettes as part of a study, the notion that they were advocating a product to use alongside smoking did not sit easily with them. This appears to stem from a lack of consonance between their notion of their role and harm reduction; given that the best was available, how could clinicians in good conscience recommend second-best, particularly when this was a newer approach which conflicted with established training and practice? Therefore, clinicians responded by advocating e-cigarettes only as short-term quitting aids. Understanding how harm reduction can be made to fit within clinicians’ notions of good treatment will be needed to change this situation and allow implementation of harm reduction guidelines where this approach is advocated.”

Does the content and source credibility of health and risk messages related to nicotine vaping products have an impact on harm perception and behavioural intentions?

The study team conducted a systematic review of literature on various risk messages about nicotine vaping products.

They found that messages “resulted in greater health and addiction risk perceptions”. They also discovered that messages about the reduced harm of vaping worked to convince people and that providing them with facts about nicotine corrected the misunderstanding that a growing number of people hold.

They concluded: “Relative risk messages may help improve the accuracy of harm perceptions of nicotine vaping products and increase smokers’ intentions to quit smoking and/or to switch to vaping, although the literature is nascent.”

Effect of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems on Cigarette Abstinence in Smokers With No Plans to Quit

This American randomised control trial covered 520 smokers to see if vaping could help them to remain smoke-free. Participants received advice on how to quit and either an eGo starter kit with 0/8/36 mg/ml nicotine e-liquid or a cigarette-shaped tube to suck on.

The researchers found that participants using a kit with 36mg/ml nicotine were significantly more likely to achieve 7-day point prevalence abstinence at 24 weeks than those in the 0mg/ml group. All of the participants in the 36mg/ml group who were abstinent at 24 weeks were using their ENDS product when they achieved abstinence and 86% of them were still using the product at week 24.

They concluded: “When smokers seeking to reduce smoking tried ENDS, few quit smoking in the short term. However, if smokers continued to use an ENDS with cigarette-like nicotine delivery, a greater proportion completely switched to ENDS, as compared with placebo or a cigarette substitute.”


Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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