Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. They use some of the funds raised from the public to carry out pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The organisation has granted Hughes a bursary amounting to £278,321.17.
Jason Hughes said: “A great deal of controversy surrounds the extent to which e-cigarettes might act as a 'gateway' to smoking, and might be exploited by tobacco companies as a new means of recruiting a generation of nicotine dependents. However, equally, e-cigarettes might offer a way for young smokers to switch to a safer source of nicotine or to stop entirely.”
The team will be using the sizeable funds to explore how young people use e-cigarettes. Professor Hughes, of the University’s College of Social Science, Arts and Humanities, will be supported by Dr Michelle O'Reilly, in collaboration with other researchers from the Universities of Leicester (John Goodwin, Khalid Karim and Grace Sykes) and Leeds (Kahryn Hughes) on the project, titled 'Adolescent Vaping Careers'.
Hughes continued: “The study focuses on the social and material conditions under which some users might switch from vaping to smoking, or indeed from smoking to vaping, or perhaps even towards full cessation.”
“It explores the interaction between social learning, media influences, peer networks, and a range of socio-economic factors in influencing the different usage trajectories of adolescent vapers.”
Through an exploration of young people's understandings, uses and experiences of e-cigarettes, the project will examine the relationship between vaping and smoking, particularly how this shifts over time and in relation to a range of different influences.
The research team hope to offer a more adequate evidential base from which to inform harm reduction and tobacco control strategies, which target this “particularly vulnerable” age group.
Hughes's first book, Learning to Smoke, was winner of the 2006 Norbert Elias prize and also looked at the processes of 'self-regulation' in relation to smoking.