CRUK Aims To Understand Disposables
Cancer Research UK (CRUK) is commissioning research looking at disposable vapes to find out why they appeal to adult smokers who are attempting to or have quit smoking. The charity’s Social and Behavioural Research team will be contracting researchers to “generate evidence to inform and enhance approaches to address preventable causes of cancer”. It plans on mapping what they find out to the socio-economic status of smokers/ex-smokers.
What is the problem CRUK wants to address?
Tobacco use leads is the largest preventable cause of cancers and untimely deaths in the UK, currently leading to approximately 125,000 preventable deaths per year.
Last year, the Khan Review was commissioned by the Government to find out what could be done to improve traditional anti-smoking approaches. The report concluded that vapes should be offered to smokers to encourage them to switch.
Recently, the Government announced that it plans to distribute free vape starter kits to more than 1 million UK smokers.
CRUK says: “Although the long-term effects of vaping are unknown, the long-term harms of tobacco are indisputable. E-cigarettes represent an opportunity for harm reduction, dramatically decreasing the risk of smoking related illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and stroke.”
The charity notes that use of disposable vapes has grown rapidly recently, 48% of 18-24-year- olds now use one as their main vaping device. But and this is where it sees an issue, the characteristics associated with making such vapes attractive to adults appears to be the reason they are also attractive to under-age users.
Last year, data showed that disposable vapes are now the most popular device used by teens (52% of all vapes used). CRUK does add that vaping by teens remains “largely experimental”, but this has led to “calls for tighter regulations and bans on disposables to curb youth uptake, with a recent call for evidence on youth vaping”.
The impact on adults
CRUK believes that it is essential to understand what motivates adults to use disposable vapes because “it is unclear how any future regulations or policies on disposables may affect adults using e- cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.”
With vaping being the leading route to smoking cessation, and research evidence proving that nicotine containing vapes work much better (3x) than traditional nicotine replacement products such as patches and gum, “there are further concerns regarding whether changes to the accessibility of disposables may disproportionately affect adults from lower socioeconomic backgrounds due to the low upfront cost of disposables in comparison to refillable products, potentially widening cancer inequalities.”
What has previous research shown?
CRUK is aiming to build on a knowledge base that indicates adult smokers from lower socio-economic groups preferred to use vapes because of the low initial cost compared to the expense of buying an advanced kit.
Smokers value something that can deliver strong flavour consistently and that the device is reliable and easy to use.
CRUK concludes: “With smoking accounting for half the difference in life expectancy between the lowest and highest income groups in England, it is crucial to ensure there are equitably accessible smoking cessation tools for those looking to quit. It is unknown if disposable e-cigarettes provide a unique advantage to help people quit smoking.”