UKECRF Research Roundup

Posted 9th November 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.

Remarkably, despite the vast list at the foot of this article, the UKECRF points out that the reading list doesn’t cover every e-cigarette-related study published this month. It marks an amazing transition from the early days of vaping, when experts could legitimately claim “we don’t know enough about it”.

Instead, the UKECRF [link] focusses solely on the high profile studies most relevant to key themes; including efficacy and safety, smoking cessation, population level impact and marketing.

1. Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation – [link]

The update from Cochrane covered 50 studies and 12,430 adults, looking at vaping’s safety and efficacy. Planet of the Vapes covered the release of the paper [link].

UKECRF said: “The majority of studies were either from the US or the UK. Therefore, the findings may not be applicable to the environment in other countries. Half of the studies included used cartridge devices, 18 used refillable devices and none used pods. Therefore, the studies included may not reflect the devices now most commonly used.”

2. Young people’s use of e-cigarettes in Wales, England and Scotland before the introduction of the EU Tobacco Products Directive regulations: a mixed-method natural experimental evaluation – [link]

The research team looked at the impact of the TPD on teen vaping and found that ecig experimentation appeared to be plateauing. They weren’t able to lay this at the feet of the legislation and suggested it may be more down to a “fad” losing its appeal.

88 Vape

UKECRF said: “All data was self-reported so may be subject to social desirability bias. This may be prone to change over time.”

Also, it added, not all of the data was comparable because it came from different surveys across the home nations.

3. Gateway or common liability? A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies of adolescent e-cigarette use and future smoking initiation – [link]

In this Australian study, researchers made claims they had found evidence of a ‘gateway’ from teen vaping to teen smoking based on a meta-analysis of 11 studies.

UKECRF said that There was significant variation in the data between the studies they looked at, “meaning that pooling of the data might not have been appropriate.”

Also, the research team considered papers that had conflicting definitions of what actually constituted smoking, leading to a conclusion that: “the analysis does not necessarily show an association between e-cigarette use and current or regular smoking.”

The Electronic Cigarette Company

In addition:

  • Publication bias was not assessed by funnel plots. Therefore, the extent to which this affected the associations is unclear.
  • Data was self- reported in most studies. Therefore, the order of e-cigarette/ cigarette use could have been incorrectly reported.
  • The confounding analysis only examined if certain confounders were adjusted for and did not test the quality of the methods used in studies.

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