The University of Wisconsin has received a $3.7 million dollar grant for a first-of-its-kind, five-year study of interest to the e cigarette industry. The study will observe the effect of vaping and smoking, or “dual use.”
Only a few details about it have been released, but here’s what we know: Starting this fall, the University of Wisconsin will enroll 400 people to take part in the study – 150 smokers and 250 smokers who also use e cigarettes, or “dual users.” The study will examine the public health effects of smoking versus both tobacco and e cigarette use. The investigators say the analysis will create “an evidence-based platform to inform public health policy.”
We see this as good news. Although we’re already convinced that an e cigarette is the way to go, particularly compared to smoking, it’s time that we “cleared the haze” with real, science-based information. There’s already a lot of research comparing the risks of smoking versus vaping, and in our eyes it’s convincing, but according to Dr. Doug Jorenby, a co-investigator of the new study, existing research has yet to meet accepted scientific standards. So, we say, go for it.
Looking back to the last century, it took decades to prove that smoking was harmful, despite widespread concerns. That’s how long it takes to accumulate evidence. Today, regulators and politicians are under pressure to weigh in on e cigarette use and they feel we can’t wait decades. Using tools that weren’t available in the mid-20th century, the Wisconsin study will include biomarkers to measure impact of dual use.
To be effective, biomarkers need to be easy to measure, cost-efficient to follow over time, consistent across large groups, and modifiable with treatment. One biomarker taken once (i.e. one measurement of blood pressure) doesn’t yield much information. But blood pressure, measured once a month for five years – will give very useful data. Especially at scale, with hundreds involved. Compare that data to the data collected on many other people and those predictions hold even more weight.
So, while this study is just five years in length (which sounds long, but really isn’t in a study of this type), changes in sensitive biomarkers from start to finish should enable scientists to identify dual use impact, and it could even help to inform on cigarette cessation practices.
We’ll keep you posted on developments as they become available.