The Electronic Cigarette Research Briefing is released four times a year, providing a summary of the latest research looking at electronic cigarettes and vaping. The briefing is targeted at policy makers, health professionals, and anyone else interested in the evidence supporting ecig use. The briefing is produced by the UK E-Cigarette Research Forum, an initiative developed by Cancer Research UK and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies. Cancer Research UK is the most active research funder supporting work on e-cigarettes in the UK.
The studies covered by the Electronic Cigarette Research Briefing don’t cover every piece of vape research published each quarter. Whereas there used to be a handful of studies each month, covering them all is now impossible due to the huge volume of work being done looking at electronic cigarettes and the impact of vaping.
Instead, the Briefing focusses on high profile pieces of work and work that is relevant to its key themes. Mostly, this involves how well vapes work to stop smoking, how safe they are, the marketing of vapes, and what impact vapes have on the population.
Predictably, the first one covered was ‘Nicotine Vaping in England’, led by Professor Ann McNeill at King’s College London and commissioned by the Office of Health Improvement and Disparities – something we covered ten weeks ago.
Saving people from reading the extensive report, the Briefing tells readers:
·Though not risk free, vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking.
·A lot of research has methodological weaknesses.
·Vaping research needs standardised terms and measures.
·Vape researchers need to operate with greater transparency.
·Research design should involve people who vape in its design.
·Non-smokers should not vape.
·People who smoke should be encouraged to switch to e-cigarettes.
The second major study covered is also one we have looked at – smokers in Norfolk being given vouchers for an e-cigarette starter kit and advice from a stop smoking service.
Authors of the briefing said: “Both referrers and participants reported positive experiences of taking part. For example, participants welcomed the financial support with the initial set-up costs and the advice from the e-cigarette retailers and also felt that a GP referral helped to ‘legitimise’ starting to vape.”
The third study covered considered the medium- and longer-term cardiovascular effects of vapes for adult users. It looked at 248 adults who smoked and were willing to attempt to stop using a stop smoking service or e-cigarettes.
The study team found that cardiovascular health showed improvement at three and six months following quitting smoking, demonstrating another clear benefit of switching from smoking to vaping.
Next, the Briefing looked at a study that considered the longer-term use of e-cigs that were given out as a stop smoking aid. It found that 54% to 70% of people given starter kits are still using them six months later – and not smoking.
It is believed that vape kits work so well for smokers because people stick with them longer unlike traditional products such as patches or gum.
The final paper covered is one that validated concerns that misinformation puts smokers off using vape products in their quit attempt. The paper found that people are “significantly more likely” to a vape kit “if they perceived them as much less harmful than cigarettes”. It emphasised the need for honesty in research and newspaper reporting.
The Electronic Cigarette Research Briefing has played a key role in helping to develop positive attitudes towards vaping in academics, politicians, and public health and medical experts. This latest version confirms that the United Kingdom has been correct in its approach to tobacco harm reduction and in encouraging smokers to switch their tobacco for e-liquids.