Can vaping help pregnant women avoid smoking harm?

UK researchers want to know if e-cigs can help pregnant women quit smoking, and how vaping may affect their babies after birth

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Pregnant Women

British researchers are going to study whether vaping can help pregnant smokers quit, and what effects using e-cigarettes may have on their babies after birth. It is the first study of its kind in the world.

The clinical trial will be conducted by the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS). UKCTAS is a network of 13 universities funded by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration.

The study will be done next year, according to The Herald Scotland. The paper interviewed Prof. Linda Bauld of the University of Stirling, a researcher with the UKCTAS project, about the study’s methods and goals.

“We are primarily interested in adult smokers who struggle to stop"

“We will be recruiting several hundred pregnant smokers and randomising them to use NRT and behavioural support, or an e-cigarette and behavioural support and then we will see how they get on,” Bauld told the paper. “We will look at ‘does it help them stop smoking, do they like it and is it safe’?”

“We are primarily interested in adult smokers who struggle to stop – that includes groups like prisoners, people with mental health problems and pregnant women,” Bauld explained. “We haven’t made much inroads into reducing smoking rates in these groups, so for these groups e-cigarettes offer real promise.”

This is the sort of research that almost never happens with vapor products, and would probably be impossible in the US, where vaping is assumed to be a danger. The commitment of British researchers like Prof. Bauld to explore the use of vaping as a harm reduction tactic has led to this exciting and potentially very valuable study.

In the US, research that might actually help smokers and their families — especially the at-risk groups that tend to smoke at higher rates than the general population — by honestly looking at possible benefits of vaping, would never get funded.

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Jim McDonald
I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.