This post is by Georgia Mannion-Krase. Georgia is the Research Follow-up Portfolio Manager in the Cancer Research UK & King’s College London Cancer Prevention Trials Unit. (She/they)
Georgia begins with this 2 minute video discussing the current dilemma…
Cavalry on the horizon?
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of cancer in the world and causes over 8 million deaths per year. We know it’s terrible for health, and yet tobacco companies report profits year-on-year. The rise of vaping could be the cavalry on the horizon (aka breakthrough) for some researchers and professionals who help people quit. E-cigarettes (ECs) have the potential to surpass all other nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) to become the cheapest and most effective smoking cessation tool available (Hajek, Peter et al ) (Biener, L. and J.L. Hargraves), so why can’t we call them ‘safe’?
Nicotine by any other name is still an addictive substance
There is a continuous debate about whether ECs are a good thing. While there are those who argue in favour of harm-reduction, others believe them to be just another tool for the tobacco industry to turn human life into profit.
The truth is that researchers believe vaping to be 95% safer than smoking tobacco in terms of harm caused, but we still can’t call vaping ‘safe’ for two reasons: Vaping does have some negative affect on health, even though it is infinitesimal in comparison to tobacco, and we simply don’t have the long-term data.
Where is the data?
There is plenty of ongoing research on ECs in many settings, so why is the long-term data not available? Clinical trials are expensive to run, and EC trials generally have follow-up data collection periods of 6-12 months only. Long-term follow-up data from health registries is also expensive, and often not considered at the grant stages of trials. In short: it is too expensive and inefficient.
The E-Cigarette Registry
“Our aim is to give researchers the data they need to add power to their studies and certainty to their conclusions on whether or not vaping is the smoking solution”
In order to address the gap in evidence, we are building a database which we are calling The E-Cigarette Registry. The Registry contains data from people who have quit smoking, both with and without vaping. It is important to collect data from both groups so that comparisons can be made between vapers and non-vapers with similar smoking histories.
We are collecting data on smoking history, dependence, frequency, NRT use, vaping habits, vape device, nicotine strength, e-liquid flavours and self-reported general respiratory health. In addition, we will combine this data with national data on mortality, cancer incidence and cardiovascular events to provide the overall picture.
The E-Cigarette Registry links previously uncollected information about people’s behaviours with data from their health records. This creates a bank of data for researchers to access, with many applications. Researchers and organisations are able to apply to access data from The Registry with outputs ranging from anonymous line-level data, aggregate data, or analyses run on the data. No one can be identified from the data held in The Registry, it is completely anonymous and sure to provide some really interesting results! Our aim is to give researchers the data they need to add power to their studies and certainty to their conclusions on whether or not vaping is the smoking solution.
Recruitment to The Registry is open to the public. Please share on your platforms so we can reach as many people as possible, to make this tool as useful as possible. Everyone has an opinion on vaping, help us get the data to back that up.
The views expressed are those of the author. Posting of the blog does not signify that the Cancer Prevention Group endorse those views or opinions.