Electronic cigarettes: history, evidence and policy

Funder: Wellcome Trust
Date: 1 January 2018 – 31 December 2018
Principal Investigator: Professor Virginia Berridge
Collaborators: Professor Wayne Hall, University of Queensland; Professor Amy Fairchild, Texas A and M University; Professor Ronald Bayer, Columbia University New York.

Description: Electronic cigarettes are controversial. This new technology in the smoking field has been welcomed by some, severely criticised by others. Do e-cigarettes potentially reduce the harm from smoking by diverting smokers down a safer route – or do they amplify harm and also recruit new smokers? Evidence on these points has been produced but has been treated differently in different national contexts. Some have opted for regulation as a medical product, some as a consumer product and in some cases for a complete ban. The hypothesis behind our research is that these divergent national responses relate to the history of smoking policy and in particular responses to nicotine. This is a ‘pilot study’ involving the UK, US and Australia which will test our theories and plan a wider cross national programme of research to look at the relationship between evidence and policy.