UK Tobacco Control Lead Martin Dockrell Promotes Vaping

The Call to Action for Healthcare Professionals 

Martin Dockrell, the Tobacco Control Programme Lead at the Office of Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), previously known as Public Health England, is calling on doctors and nurses to acknowledge the role vaping can play in helping smokers quit, even those who initially have no intention to stop smoking. He emphasizes the importance of reading a recently published paper in JAMA Network Open, which provides valuable insights into this topic. 


Martin Dockrell’s Journey and Contributions 

Dockrell's career in public health spans several decades, beginning in the mid-1980s with his involvement in HIV prevention work. Before joining Public Health England, he spent seven years at Action on Smoking and Health, advocating for tobacco control. His extensive experience and dedication to public health have earned him a fellowship at the Royal Society of Public Health. 


A Message to Medical Practitioners 

Dockrell poses a thought-provoking scenario: “Doctors and Nurses, imagine that middle-aged smoker in your clinic. He may lack education and have no intention of quitting smoking. What should you do? 

“Here’s a clue: He is 10 times more likely to quit if he starts vaping every day. Vaping less than daily makes no difference.” 

He directs healthcare providers to the paper titled “Association of e-Cigarette Use With Discontinuation of Cigarette Smoking Among Adult Smokers Who Were Initially Never Planning to Quit.” 

The Study and Its Findings 

The paper, authored by researchers from several North American institutions including the Department of Health Behaviour at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Centre for Tobacco Products at the Food and Drug Administration, among others, delves into the often-overlooked population of smokers who do not plan to quit. 

Using data from the longitudinal Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study, the researchers evaluated participants over three pairs of interviews to determine if vaping is associated with quitting smoking among those who initially had no plans to quit. 

The primary outcomes measured were the discontinuation of cigarette smoking and the discontinuation of daily cigarette smoking at follow-up interviews. The study controlled for demographic characteristics and baseline cigarette consumption using generalized estimating equations. 


Key Takeaways from the Research 

The study concluded that “daily e-cigarette use was associated with greater odds of cigarette discontinuation among smokers who initially had no plans to ever quit smoking.” These findings underscore the potential benefits of considering smokers who are not planning to quit when evaluating the risk-benefit potential of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation. 


Implications for Healthcare Practice 

Dockrell’s message is clear: Healthcare professionals should consider recommending daily vaping as a useful tool for smokers, even those who seem uninterested in quitting. By doing so, they can significantly increase the chances of their patients successfully giving up cigarettes, ultimately improving public health outcomes. 

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