Clinical Trial in Canada
In Ottawa, Canada, a clinical trial will be carried out by Dr Smita Pakhale. This is to assess the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping marginalised groups to quit smoking. The trial will consist of 200 homeless people; half will receive e-cigarettes and half will receive Nicotine replacement therapies (gum, patches etc.). To fund this trial, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research have provided a $100,000 grant.
Pakhale said, “We’re trying to understand if e-cigarettes can be in our toolbox since they have some features that could be attractive. They can deliver calculated doses of nicotine in an inhaled fashion, and, secondly, they can give smokers that hand-to-mouth gesture that they crave.”
On a global level, smoking rates are much higher in lower socio-economic areas. Pakhale argues that in Canada, smokers cannot pay for the cessation therapies. She went on to say, “Even in the health care field we don’t treat tobacco as a chronic disease for homeless people, which is what we should be doing. From head to toe, each and every organ is affected by smoking. To make matters worse, homeless people often can’t afford the therapies that might help them quit smoking. That’s one of the problems that the randomized controlled trial is designed to address. Normally participants will receive nicotine replacement therapies for free.”
Smokers with Mental Health Conditions
Similarly to homeless people, the smoking rates for adults living with mental health conditions is also very high. Ann McNeill Professor of Tobacco Addiction, King’s College London recently said: “People with a mental health condition are more than twice as likely to smoke as the general population.”
The comments came as The Mental Health and Smoking Partnership released a statement on e-cigarettes. In the statement, a target was set to “reduce smoking rates among people with a mental health condition to 5% by 2035, with an interim target of 35% by 2020.”
Alyssa Best, Cancer Research UK suggested that e-cigarettes could be utilised to meet these targets. She said “E-cigarettes offer another opportunity for smokers with mental health conditions that haven’t been able to stop using other methods.”