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For a detailed account of the programme of work planned for the period 2007-2012, click here (pdf)

1 Clinical research
1.1 Treating cigarette dependence in smokers' clinics
Data on over 3,000 clients of two London NHS Smoking Cessation Services is being analysed to investigate background characteristics on smoking patterns and motives, choices made by smokers concerning their treatment, side-effects of medications used to treat cigarette dependence, the acute effects of stopping and both short - and long- term success rates. Furthermore, the data will be able to make a direct comparison in a clinical setting between the effectiveness of various forms of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), and observed differences between NRT and bupropion. The data will also be able to compare treatment in clinic settings with treatment in the community.

Contacts: Andy McEwen, Robert West
Collaborators: Hayden McRobbie (University of Auckland)

1.2 Smoking Cessation Service Research Network (SCSRN)
The Smoking Cessation Service Research Network (SCSRN) is a collection of UK Smoking Cessation Services that aims to provide accurate and timely information necessary to guide policy, achieve effective treatment provision and contribute to research in the field.

Contacts: Andy McEwen, Robert West
Links: www.scsrn.org

1.3 ZORN
This is an MRC-funded randomised controlled trial of nicotine replacement therapy versus bupropion (Zyban) versus the combination of the two in helping smokers to stop in the context of the NHS stop smoking services. Data collection is ingoing.

Key Contact: Robert West
Collaborators: John Stapleton and Gay Sutherland (Kings College London), Peter Hajek (Royal London and Barts Medical School)

1.4 Tobacco use and demand for clinical services amongst local Somali population
Funded by Islington PCT this short-term project is investigating the tobacco use (smoking and oral products) amongst Somalis within Islington. Additionally it is using expertise within the HBU to examine a range of other health behaviours, including: nutrition, exercise and substance misuse.

Contacts: Andy McEwen, Lianne Straus, Helen Croker
Collaborators: Islington PCT

1.5 Use of biomarker feedback to promote smoking cessation
Lion Shahab is conducting his PhD in health psychology concentrating on smoking cessation interventions and the effectiveness of novel brief interventions that utilise biological marker feedback. In particular, he is interested in the effects of providing smokers with images of their own atherosclerotic plaque on smoking cessation and quit attempts and how these can be conceptualised within a framework of informational and emotional processing.

Key Contact: Lion Shahab

2. Epidemiological research
2.1 The HABITS study
A 5 year longitudinal survey of the health and behaviour of over 5000 11-16 year olds from South London has been completed and is currently being analysed. The smoking sections of this study allow us to track the development of smoking throughout the teenage years, establish factors associated with smoking and predictors of smoking uptake. Genetic data collected from this study will provide an understanding of genetic factors associated with smoking variables in children and adolescents.

Key Contacts: Robert West, Martin Jarvis, Jenny Fidler, Jane Wardle

Key Publications:
Wardle J, Jarvis MJ, Steggles N, Sutton S, Williamson S, Farrimond H et al. Socioeconomic disparities in cancer-risk behaviors in adolescence: baseline results from the Health and Behaviour in Teenagers Study (HABITS). Preventive Medicine 2003;36:721-30.

This is a longitudinal study of smoking patterns, cessation attempts, health status and health-service utilisation in a cohort of up to 5600 smokers in 5 countries followed up by internet questionnaire every 3 months. The HBU is part of a wide collaboration funded by Sanofi-Aventis. Data collection is ongoing and analysis has started.

Key Contact: Robert West
Key Collaborator: Remi Brouard (Sanofi-Aventis)

2.3 General population surveys
Analysis of several large population studies is carried out within the unit. Data from ONS Omnibus surveys, the British Regional Heart Study and the Health Survey for England are being used to look at issues surrounding population smoking patterns, passive smoking and the stability of nicotine intake from 1978 to 2000.

Robert West is collaborating with the Institute of Oncology in Poland on a number of studies including analysis of cotinines as a biomarker of tobacco use in a nationally representative sample of smokers and non-smokers.

Robert West is also leading a feasibility study funded by CR-UK for a large national cohort study of smoking cessation patterns in the UK (the 'Smokers Toolkit' study)

Key Contacts: Robert West, Martin Jarvis
Collaborators: Derek Cook and David Strachan (St George's Hospital Medical School), Witold Zatokonski (Institute of Oncology, Warsaw)

Key publications:

  1. Jarvis, M., Goddard, E., Higgins, V., Feyerabend, C., Bryant, A. and Cook, D. (2000) Br Med J, 321, 343-345. Children's exposure to passive smoking in England since the 1980s: cotinine evidence from population surveys
  2. Jarvis, M., Feyerabend, C., Bryant, A., Hedges, B. and Primatesta, P. (2001) Passive smoking in the home: plasma cotinine levels in nonsmokers with smoking partnersTobacco Control, 10, 368-374.
  3. Jarvis, M. J., Primatesta, P., Boreham, R., Feyerabend, C. and Bryant, A. (2001) Nicotine yield from machine-smoked cigarettes and nicotine intakes in smokers: evidence from a representative population surveyJournal of the National Cancer Institute, 93, 134-138.
  4. Jarvis, M. J., Primatesta, P., Erens, B., Feyerabend, C. and Bryant, A. (2003) Measuring nicotine intake in population surveys: comparability of saliva cotinine and plasma cotinine estimates Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 5, 349-355.
  5. West R, DiMarino M, Gitchell, J, McNeill A. (2005) The impact of UK policy initiatives on use of medicines to aid smoking cessation. Tobacco Control, 14, 166-171.
  6. West R, Alkhatib N, McNeill A, Bedi R (In Press) Awareness of mouth cancer in Great Britain. British Dental Journal.
2.4 Surveys of GPs and other health professionals
A number of surveys that explore smoking cessation interventions that general practitioners (GPs) undertake with their patients, including the prescribing of medications and their attitudes towards smoking and smoking cessation. Also investigated are factors that may inhibit or facilitate smoking cessation interventions by GPs and an evaluation of a tool (GP Desktop Resource - GDR) to encourage such interventions. An investigation of similar themes with other health professionals directly and indirectly involved in smoking cessation is planned.

Contacts: Andy McEwen, Robert West
Collaborators: Lesley Owen (NICE) and Hayden McRobbie (University of Auckland)

Key Publications:
  1. McEwen, A., West, R., Owen, L. & Raw, M. (2005) General practitioners' views on and referral to NHS Stop Smoking Services. Public Health, 119 (4): p262-8.
  2. McEwen, A., West, R. & Owen, L. (2004) GP prescribing of nicotine replacement and bupropion to aid smoking cessation in England and Wales. Addiction, 99, 1470-1474.
  3. McEwen, A. Preston, A. & West, R. (2002) Effect of a GP Desktop Resource (GDR) on smoking cessation activities of general practitioners. Addiction. 97 (5): 595 - 7.
  4. McEwen, A., West, R. & Owen, L. (2001) General Practitioners' views on the provision of nicotine replacement therapy and bupropion. BMC Family Practice 2001, 2 (1): 6.
  5. McEwen, A., Akotia, N. & West, R. (2001) GPs' views on English smoking cessation guidelines. Addiction 96, 997-1000.
  6. McEwen, A. & West, R. (2001) Smoking cessation activities by general practitioners and practice nurses. Tobacco Control; 10: 27-32.
3 Laboratory studies
3.1 Nicotine Cannon
Data collection is underway on a novel nicotine delivery device (the 'Nicotine Cannon') that provides a flexible, inexpensive, inhaler-based dosing system with the potential to provide a high dose quickly and comfortably.

Key Contacts: Robert West, Andy McEwen
Collaborators: Colin Feyeraband (ABS Laboratories, London)

3.2 Physical activity and nicotine withdrawal symptoms
Collaborative work with St George's Hospital Medical School has looked at the effectiveness of physical activity in reducing cravings and aiding cessation.

Key Contacts: Robert West, Andy McEwen
Collaborators: Michael Ussher (St George's Hospital Medical School, London)

Daniel J, Cropley M, Ussher M, West R (2004) Acute effects of a short bout of moderate and light intensity exercise on tobacco withdrawal symptoms in sedentary smokers. Psychopharmacology, 174, 320-326.

3.3 Exposure to Tobacco Specific Nitrosamines (TSNAs) from different brands of cigarette
As part of an international team of researchers, Dr Ann McNeill, supported by Lion Shahab, is currently running a study, which assesses the levels of carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA) in smokers of various branded cigarettes. This study - conducted in Canada, England, Australia and the US for the Department of Health and the Centres of Disease Control and Prevention - is aiming to examine whether smokers of popular cigarette products that are low in nitrosamines have indeed lower body burden of nitrosamines compared to smokers of popular cigarettes that have high levels of nitrosamines allowing for corrections for typical individual smoke intake.

Key Contacts: Dr Ann McNeill, Lion Shahab

This page last modified 9 January, 2009 by Mark Livermore

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