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University of Waterloo to help conduct $10-million study of e-cigarettes

A University of Waterloo sign. Ahmad Fareed Khan / Global News

The University of Waterloo says it will be one of several schools from around the globe taking part in a $10-million study on e-cigarettes and other new nicotine products.

The university says the five-year study, which is being funded by the United States’ National Cancer Institute, will look at the behavioural and long-term health impact of different regulatory approaches to e-cigarettes and other new nicotine products among youth and adults in seven countries.

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“Understanding the use of these products among both youth and adults is critical to understanding which policies are the most effective in decreasing tobacco use and curbing youth uptake of e-cigarettes,” said professor David Hammond, who is leading a youth study in the area.

“The timing of this project is ideal since policies are still evolving in Canada and other countries.”

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UWaterloo says the market for tobacco products has seen rapid expansion over the past few years with the advent of e-cigarettes and other new nicotine products joining old stalwarts such as cigarettes and cigars on store shelves.

It also notes that countries have used different options on how to regulate the market, with some governments going so far as to encourage those who are having a hard time quitting smoking cigarettes to transition to e-cigarettes.

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The school says other countries have adopted more restrictive measures in an attempt to avoid having younger people get addicted to them.

Waterloo psychology professor Geoffrey Fong is one of the leaders of the study that will focus on the approaches to these types of nicotine products in the U.S., Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.

“To date, there has been mostly speculation about the impact of policies on e-cigarettes and other new nicotine products,” Fong stated.

“This project allows us to compare the behavioural and potential future health impacts of different regulatory strategies being carried out in different countries with great potential to inform evidence-based approaches to e-cigarettes and other new nicotine products.”

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Hammond, professor and university research chair in public health in the School of Public Health Science at Waterloo, will lead a survey of youth in the U.S., Canada and England that examines trends in smoking and vaping among youth who smoke and those who have never smoked.

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