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The UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, which is a network of 13 universities, will be recruiting several hundred women for this study which will be carried out next year. The researchers will monitor whether vaping can aid smoking pregnant women who are struggling to quit, kick the habit. Their babies will be monitored and assessed up until the age of two to determine whether these children were exposed to any harm, and how vaping affected their development, noting any possible adverse effects.

Existing studies

A study made public last week reported that vaping is as detrimental to our cardiovascular system as much as smoking, as it also stiffens the main blood vessel in the body, however critics pointed out that the fact that nicotine causes arterial stiffness is no news and that this stiffness is also caused by other substances such as coffee.

On the other hand, research carried out by other health organizations, in the UK and internationally, found that vaping is significantly safer than smoking. Amongst these studies we find the renowned report published by Royal College of physicians that found vaping to be at least 95% safer than smoking, and the research conducted by the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in the US reporting that e-cigarette use may lead to a drop of 21% in smoking associated deaths, and a 20% percent gain in life years.

With the number of vapers in the UK having increased to about two million, Linda Bauld, professor of health policy at the University of Stirling and deputy director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, pointed out that in the last five years attitudes towards e-cigarette have gone from positive to negative, and that this is “not great” for health experts who consider them an effective smoking cessation tool.

The professor pointed out that there has not been enough effort to aid certain adult groups such as prisoners and pregnant women to quit the deadly habit, and that this is the first trial of it it’s kind. Bauld added that since in the UK, Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs) are routinely given to pregnant women, in this study amongst the several hundreds of expecting mothers some will be given NRT’s and some e-cigarettes randomly. The researchers will then assess which is most effective at helping them quit, the method’s safety, and what the study subjects prefer.

Reliable information urgently needed

Currently the 9,900 smoking pregnant ladies in the UK are being encouraged to use NRT products, however new guidance is advising midwives to not discourage them from using vaping products if these are found to be helpful in steering them clear of smoking. Many in the health industry such as Janet Fyle, policy adviser at the Royal College of Midwives said that further research on the topic is greatly needed as due to the current conflicting theories they do not feel fully comfortable recommending e-cigarettes to pregnant women, and this is a shame if they are truly beneficial.