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Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine - Barts and The London

Health and Lifestyle research group

We conduct research in smoking cessation and in weight management.

We have contributed to the development of smoking cessation interventions that are now used worldwide, and guided the development and training of the UK Specialist Stop Smoking Service. Our current focus is on evaluating safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes.

The Health and Lifestyle Research Group covers the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit (TDRU) and the Weight Management Research Unit (WMRU).

TDRU is one of the leading smoking cessation research and treatment centres globally. Its work has informed current clinical practice and guidelines, including the establishment of the national Specialist Stop Smoking Service and series of relevant NICE Guidelines.

WMRU is a more recent addition to the Group’s work, focussing on treatment and research programmes for obesity and weight management. We developed a task-based weight management programme validated in a large randomised trial, and are currently evaluating simple interventions that, if effective, can be disseminated economically on a large scale.

The group also provide local services for smokers and for people who want to lose weight. We run specialist stop smoking services for the boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham and provide weight management clinics for QMUL staff and local residents. The clinics serve as a bases for a range of studies developing new treatments and enhancing understanding of addictive behaviours and behaviour change.


Recent research projects


Helping pregnant smokers quit: electronic cigarettes versus nicotine patches

QMUL team lead by Prof. Peter Hajek

Funder : National Institute for Health Research - HTA


E-cigarettes are a popular way of stopping smoking, and could be of benefit to pregnant smokers as well. Treatments in pregnancy need to be safe, and the trial is evaluating not just whether e-cigarettes help pregnant smokers quit, but also whether they are safe for them.

Research details

Pregnant smokers were allocated by a computer to receive either advice and support by specialists over the phone alongside nicotine patches, or the same advice and support alongside e-cigarettes. The two groups will be compared in numbers who quit smoking at the end of pregnancy, and in adverse effects and birth and maternal outcomes. The study has recruited 1140 pregnant smokers as planned, and we hope the results will be available early 2021.


Do e-cigarettes help smokers quit when not accompanied by intensive behavioural support?

QMUL team lead by Dr. Katie Smith

Funder: National Institute for Health Research - HTA


We recently showed that e-cigarettes are more effective in helping smokers quit than nicotine replacement treatments (NRT), such as patches or chewing gum (click here for details). E-cigarettes and NRT were used with specialist stop-smoking advice and support, provided every week for four weeks. In this trial, we want to see if e-cigarettes work with less support. 

Research details

Smokers will be randomly allocated to three study arms. 1. Receiving by post an e-cigarette starter pack with advice to purchase further supplies of e-liquid of the preferred strength and flavour themselves; PLUS five weekly support telephone calls from an e-cigarette helpline. 2. The same e-cigarette starter pack and advice, with only the initial one-off telephone advice. 3. Enlisting in the NHS Smokefree Quit Now online programme that provides support for 28 days, and is currently the most economical approach in use. A total of 1,170 smokers will be recruited and we will determine how many in each study arm have stopped smoking 6 and 12 months later.


How does dual use of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes change over time?

QMUL team lead by Prof. Peter Hajek

Funder: Cancer Research UK


Many smokers who start to use e-cigarettes sometimes smoke and sometimes vape. Little is known about the way such use develops over time, and what influence media stories about vaping may have on this behaviour.

Research details

Dual users are asked questions about their vaping and smoking, and about media stories concerning vaping that they have noticed, at 3-monthly intervals. 503 participants were recruited. The study will continue for 10 years, with twice a year surveys. The results from the first 12 months are complete and we hope to publish them in early 2021.


Effects of reduced-risk nicotine delivery products on smoking prevalence and cigarette sales (Gateway into or out of smoking?)

QMUL team lead by Prof. Peter Hajek

Funder: National Institute for Health Research - PHR


Several products provide smokers with nicotine without chemicals that make smoking dangerous to health. These include Swedish snus (oral tobacco prepared in a way that minimises health risks), products that heat tobacco rather than burn it, and e-cigarettes. There is a concern that these products encourage smoking (a gateway into smoking); but also the hope that they replace smoking, especially among young people (a gateway out of smoking).

Research details

A number of countries keep records, year by year, of how many people smoke, and how many use the alternative products. Records also exist on sales of cigarettes and of the other products over time. We will examine how changes in use of alternative nicotine products over time relate to changes in smoking and in cigarette sales. We will also compare countries that allow and countries that ban these products in these time trends. The research is due to start in November 2020.


Nicotine delivery and user reactions to IQOS and different types of e-cigarettes

QMUL team lead by Dr. Dunja Przulj

Funder: Cancer Research UK


Different types of e-cigarettes and other alternatives to smoking, such as ‘heat not burn’ products, provide different amounts of nicotine to people that use them. Knowing how much nicotine these products provide can show their potential to help people quit smoking.

Research details

A group of vapers have tested, under the same conditions, different e-cigarettes, the JUUL devices (both US and UK versions with different levels of nicotine), their own cigarettes, and in this latest study, the heat-not-burn tobacco product, IQOS. During testing sessions, participants use the product as they like for 5 minutes, and blood samples are taken for half-hour. Participants also rate the products. Data we already have allow us to compare the products with each other.

The findings from this project which have been been published so far can be found by clicking:

Nicotine delivery to users from cigarettes and from different types of e-cigarettes

Initial ratings of different types of e-cigarettes and relationships between product appeal and nicotine delivery

Nicotine delivery and users’ reactions to Juul compared with cigarettes and other e‐cigarette products


TEC Study Q&A [PDF 321KB]

TEC Summary [PDF 85KB]

Unit Research

ANANINA, Irina -- Unit Administrator -- 0207 882 8231 -- 

HAJEK, Peter (Director) -- Professor of Clinical Psychology -- 0207 882 8232 --

LADMORE, Daniella -- Research Health Psychologist -- 0207 882 5948 --

McALPINE, Kirsten -- Specialist Stop Smoking Advisor -- 0207 882 8224 --

McROBBIE, Hayden -- Professor of Public Health Interventions -- 0207 882 5721 --

PESOLA, Francesca, Dr -- Research Fellow in Statistics -- 0207 882 5722 --

ORZOL, Marzena -- Research Health Psychologist -- 0207 882 8227 --

PHILLIPS-WALLER, Anna -- Research Manager -- 0207 882 5747 -- 

PRZULJ, Dunja, Dr -- Research Fellow -- 0207 882 5949 --

SMITH, Katie, Dr  -- Senior Research Fellow -- 0207 882 8245 --

Quit Right Team

AHMED, Sabir -- Administrator and Communications Officer -- 0207 882 3265/ 8230 --

BEGUM, Shajue -- Tobacco Cessation Practitioner and Administrator -- 0207 882 8669/ 8230 -- 

BEGUM, Shamsia -- Service Manager -- 0207 882 3264 -- 

COPPACK, Simon, Dr -- Clinic locum via Lucy Connolly x 3230 on Tues  -- 0207 882 2369 --

DESAI, Farah -- Tobacco Cessation Practitioner/Pregnancy Specialist -- 0207 882 8246 --

GHOSH, Dipul -- Tobacco Cessation Practitioner -- 0207 882 8660 -- 

MONTERO, Emma -- Tobacco Cessation Practitioner -- 0207 882 6607 -- 

NAHAR, Kamrun -- Tobacco Cessation Practitioner -- 0207 882 7374 --


Clinic Reception  --  0207 882 8230

Clinic Freephone --  0800 169 1943

Clinic Fax --  0207 791 1774