The Clifford Craig Foundation is a health promotion charity that supports the Launceston General Hospital, the acute referral hospital for north and northwest Tasmania.
Established in 1992, the purpose of the Foundation is to improve the health of the community that we serve through the provision of funding for innovative medical research, education of health professionals, funding of medical equipment and patient facilities within the hospital.
Medical research is a priority focus for the Foundation and we enable our research teams to find better treatments and ways to cure the health related issues that are important to Tasmanians. Importantly, the research and educational opportunities that we provide are intended to help attract and retain medical specialists, researchers and higher degree students to work here in Northern Tasmania.
The Clifford Craig Foundation is situated on level five of the Launceston General Hospital where it houses a research centre to support the extensive research program that is facilities within the hospital.
The Clifford Craig Foundation are currently funding a medical research project led by Dr Sukhwinder Sohal:
'Are newly introduced electronic smoking devices safe for smoking cessation and implications for SARS-COV-2 infection (COVID-19)'
Every year tobacco kills more than 15,500 Australians with a consistently upward trajectory (Cancer Council Australia). While cigarette smoking remains one of the most pressing global health issues of our time, newer forms of smoking devices have been introduced across the globe in the last decade.
Electronic cigarettes (ECS), which heat a solution (e-liquid) to create vapour are commonly used, and the latest addition to this list is the introduction of heat-not-burn (HnBs) tobacco products branded as IQOS (I Quit Ordinary Smoking) by Philip Morris International (1, 2). HnBs are hybrids between ECs and traditional cigarettes i.e. they are equipped with a device that heats the product, without burning to generate aerosol and the product being heated is not a liquid but real tobacco. They are collectively known as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). ECs use is increasing at an alarming rate; it is believed it will surpass the use of traditional cigarettes in the next 5 years, with global sales reaching US$10 billion. Electronic smoking devices are often considered a safer alternative to cigarettes; however, the risks are significant, including increased risk of COVID-19 vulnerability.
This project will evaluate the effects of electronic nicotine delivery systems on inducing airway inflammation, evaluate the effects of electronic nicotine delivery systems on airway changes and investigate the susceptibility to COVID - 19. In addition, the project will generate increased awareness of these risks within the community, to deter established smokers from using these devices for smoking cessation and prevent young people from using them in the first instance. This research will have direct implications for patient health and will inform clinical practice.