2018 scholars and their projects
Communicating tobacco harm reduction in Malawi
Chimwemwe has been highly active in sharing his passion for global health and harm reduction through a series of social media and online programs, in order to disseminate information on tobacco harm reduction in Malawi, and promote healthy and informed choices regarding tobacco smoking. His website, www.thrmalawi.info, distributes current scientific and social information surrounding the use of and impact of tobacco smoking on the population of Malawi, and the current state of Malawian tobacco law. Chimwemwe now has 21 volunteer ambassadors from varied academic and social backgrounds publicising the website, and he has appeared on local TV and radio to talk about the website and tobacco harm reduction in Malawi. He has also been active in debates surrounding tobacco cessation. Through support from his Scholarship mentor, Dr Grzegorz Krol, Chimwemwe has been able to gain valuable help regarding the successful running and promotion of his website.
E-cigarette use amongst people who are homeless
Florian is developing on his efforts to create harm reduction strategies aimed at people who are homeless (PWAH), and as a part of the Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarship Programme he is studying the patterns of use and take-up of e-cigarettes in the homeless community. His previous work developing guidebooks for health for homeless people, and volunteering in emergency homeless accommodation in Ireland, has merged into his work with tobacco harm reduction, and this project will see him approach the complex issues arising with e-cigarette use amongst the homeless community, including access to electricity and loss of devices. Florian is currently being mentored by Andy Morrison.
Vaping and regulation in Estonia
Ingmar Kurg is expanding on his work as founder and Chairman of the E-cigarette Sellers and Users Union of Estonia to conduct a survey of over 700 e-cigarette consumers. He will investigate how successive government regulations on e-cigarettes have impacted on vaping consumers in Estonia. Analysis of this survey will provide a wealth of information regarding trends in the change in user uptake of e-cigarettes related to legislative change and provide further information for law makers in Estonia to enact future regulation changes. An e-cigarette conference in the Estonian Parliament house in November 2018 provides a unique opportunity to further discuss reduced harm products for ex- and current- smokers. Ingmar is being mentored by Konstantinos Farsalinos.
Khan Mehedi Hasan
Tobacco cultivation in Bangladesh
Tobacco cultivation and processing has become increasingly widespread in Bangladesh, despite multiple economic and logistical factors providing opposition to the shift of traditional crop growing farmers to become tobacco farmers. The reasoning and mentality behind this switch is the basis of Khan’s research, and by interviewing tobacco farmers to analyse the role of tobacco processing companies (TPC) in contracting tobacco cultivation amongst local farmers, Khan hopes to expand upon the current lack of detail regarding research into tobacco cultivator/TPC relationships, and provide future reference for policy making decisions in the region of Khulna in Bangladesh.
Success rates of THR products amongst the general populace of the United States
Through the lens of THR4Life, a platform dedicated to giving vapers informed and valuable opinions and science regarding vaping and e-cigarettes, Lindsey is seeking to assess the success rates of several different alternatives to smoking-based nicotine consumption, including nicotine replacement therapies, heat-not-burn products and e-cigarettes. In order to achieve this goal, Lindsey is utilising an online questionnaire to determine several factors indicative of successful smoking cessation (with the aid of nicotine products other than smoked tobacco), methods used to quit smoking and length of time spent attempting to quit smoking, amongst a US population. Ideally THR4Life will also examine the longer term health effects of the use of reduced harm nicotine products.
Elevated anxiety sensitivity in smoking populations in the US
Personalised feedback, computer-delivered intervention (PFI) is an as yet unrealised potential treatment for the large proportion of smokers who suffer from elevated anxiety sensitivity. It is an alternative to the relatively time-dependent, long term treatments associated with elevated anxiety sensitivity and smoking. Lorra Garey is hoping to fill this gap by staging a randomized control trial of various computer-based PFI treatment plans, studying a population of current smokers as they attempt to quit smoking, and evaluating the success rates of smoking cessation. Through contact with her mentor, Helen Redmond, Lorra has been able to streamline and refine the intervention materials necessary for the proposed treatments, and gain a greater insight into the reduced harm nicotine products currently available.
Tobacco harm reduction and e-cigarette regulation in India
Although harm reduction techniques are widespread throughout the world, India has an adverse stance with regards to e-cigarette use. This antipathy (including the banning of e-cigarettes in six States in India) is the subject of Michael Joseph’s research with the aid of the Scholarship programmme. Through a review of the extent of e-cigarette regulation in India, with especial interest in the State of Kerala, and analysis of civil society group involvement in public health choice and information provision, Michael Joseph hopes to provide a greater information base for civil society groups to oppose e-cigarette bans and reverse the anti-harm reduction messages currently dissipated by the Indian public health system. So far Michael Joseph has contacted policy makers and experts in Kerala, and with the help of his mentor, Professor Rajesh Sharan, has contacted further people in tobacco harm reduction in Delhi.
Dr Mihaela Raescu
Effect of vaping on oral health in Romania
Dr Mihaela Raescu is investigating how the switch from smoking to vaping and heat-not-burn devices can impact the oral health of individuals in urban populations. Through research taking place in Romania, Dr Mihaela Raescu hopes to use her experience and patient access as a Professor in Oral and Dental Prevention to gain unique insight into the presence or not of key oral health indicators, such as plaque or gingival indicators, in individuals from the large smoking and relatively large vaping and iQOS communities present in Romania. If the project proceeds with positive and encouraging results, Dr Mihaela Raescu will be applying the study on a much larger scale to further investigate the oral health of these target populations.
Social media and harm reduction in Poland
Miroslaw has been an avid proponent and author of e-cigarette literature since the advent of vaping in the late 2000s, including writing the first ever book on e-cigarettes, “E-cigarettes for beginners”, and has worked as a scientific researcher and freelance scientific journalist since 1979. Through social media and blogging, Miroslaw will spread reliable, factual and scientific information regarding the use of e-cigarettes and e-liquids to an audience of tobacco smokers and those intending to quit tobacco use in Poland. With close help from his mentor, Professor Andrzej Sobczak, Miroslaw sources and collates current scientific data and publications surrounding e-cigarettes, and will be using these as exemplar pieces of scientific research to his vaping and smoking audience.
S Thangminlal Vaiphei
Investigating nicotine acetylcholine receptors
In his research project, S Thangminlal Vaiphei hopes to evaluate and explore the nicotine acetylcholine receptor proteins within the human body to further discover if therapeutic drugs can be developed that target these nicotine binding sites, possibly paving the way for a pharmacological and therapeutic route for reducing nicotine dependence and addiction. This project will also enable the creation of tools for detection of tobacco toxicants and biomarkers to evaluate the possibilities of alternate nicotine delivery systems. Regular contact with his mentor, Professor Rajesh Sharan, has enabled the pace of the project to intensify, and Rajesh has given insightful knowledge for ways to improve the project.
Adapting tobacco harm reduction for bidi smokers in India
Hoping to expand on his work on promoting safer and healthier alternatives to tobacco use, Samrat is conducting a project distributing e-cigarettes to bidi smokers in Mumbai, in order to gauge the user response to, and eventual take-up, of e-cigarettes. In particular, Samrat is evaluating the difficulties and obstacles in take-up of vaping in lower-income smoking communities, and how consumer models for e-cigarette distribution and e-liquid production can be adapted to better suit bidi smokers. Through support from his mentor Professor Rajesh Sharan, Samrat is helping to fill the gap in current knowledge surrounding the complexities and peculiarities of bidi smoker transitions to e-cigarettes.
Sampling representative data on societal well-being from the tobacco smoking community
Wilfred Jekete is exploring the effects of tobacco harm reduction materials and exposure to tobacco harm reduction messages on the societal well-being of smokers, and on the wider community in Malawi as a whole. Wilfred intends that this research will enable a shifting of public opinion in Malawi towards a positive outlook on tobacco harm reduction and increase both public and professional understanding surrounding reduced harm tobacco products. Wilfred is receiving invaluable help from his mentor Louise Ross.
Raising tobacco harm reduction awareness through social media
Will Godfrey is taking an anti-misinformation and increased awareness approach to tobacco harm reduction in the US. Using his online news site, he aims to increase the level of common knowledge of key research and information surrounding tobacco harm reduction to a readership open to the concept of evidence-based policies. Launched in early October 2018, Will’s website, filtermag.org, provides up to date tobacco harm-related content, including pieces by Helen Redmond on the “War on nicotine”, and a variety of media formats including interviews, videos, op-eds and scientific analyses. This content is promoted with the help of social media and republications with larger scale publications. The overarching intent is to facilitate increased awareness for tobacco harm reduction, and facilitate constructive debate around tobacco harm reduction.
Regulation and transitions to vaping
Yolande Jeffares has taken the complexities of vaping research in her stride as she aims to study the effects of vaping regulation on the behaviour of smokers transitioning to vaping. Recruiting her volunteers in New Zealand through social media and harm reduction networks, and from a diverse array of backgrounds, her interviewees are asked a range of questions regarding hypothetical regulatory situations and will be analysed from a psychological perspective as part of Yolande’s Master of Science (Psychology) thesis. Contact with her mentor, Dr Marewa Glover, has enabled Yolande to go beyond the limits usually imposed by funding-only scholarships, and has provided a wealth of information on how to progress with this research and how to apply the skill base in a new and rewarding context.