E-cigarette use in England

First published: 30 March 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019


Dr Jamie Brown

Senior Research Fellow, University College London

Dr Brown is a Senior Research Fellow of the Society for Study of Addiction at University College London. He co-leads a programme of research to evaluate digital behaviour change interventions and runs the Smoking and Alcohol Toolkit Studies. In over 50 publications on a variety of topics, his focus has been on tobacco control, including e-cigarettes, harm reduction and the real-world effectiveness of smoking cessation treatments. He has been invited to present his work on e-cigarettes at international conferences, to the UK regulatory authorities for medicines, and has co-authored a briefing to the UK all-party parliamentary pharmacy group. He is a co-author of Theory of Addiction (second edition) and ABC of Behaviour Change Theories, and an Assistant Editor at the journal Addiction.

E-cigarette use in England: Latest trends from the Smoking Toolkit Study

E-cigarettes are devices designed to give much of the experience of smoking without exposing the user to the carcinogenic smoke constituents that cigarettes deliver. The devices have rapidly become popular among smokers and two randomised trials have indicated their efficacy in aiding smoking cessation and reduction. However, it is a challenge to establish likely contribution to public health through randomised efficacy trials alone. There are many factors that influence real-world effectiveness, including the brand of e-cigarette, the way they are used and who chooses to use them. In this talk, I will first present a study indicating that among English adult smokers in the ‘real world’ stopping without professional support, those who use e-cigarettes appear more likely to remain abstinent than those who use a licensed NRT product bought over-the-counter or no aid to cessation. A difference which persists after adjusting for a range of smoker and socio-demographic characteristics. Although e-cigarettes may appear able to help some smokers to quit, there remains concern that they may still have a negative public health impact at a population level. In the second part of the talk, I will present population trends in e-cigarette use and other tobacco control indicators in England from the Smoking Toolkit Study, and will conclude that current evidence conflicts with the view that e-cigarettes are undermining tobacco control or ‘renormalizing’ smoking in England while acknowledging continued careful monitoring is paramount.


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Jamie Brown