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Groundbreaking recognition

Research article on e-cigarette legislation earns national award


By Marcia Porter

Dr. Hai Nguyen ended 2020 on a research-related high.

His article, Association of Canada’s Provincial Bans on Electronic Cigarette Sales to Minors With Electronic Cigarette Use Among Youths was named article of the year by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in a late December news release.

Dr. Nguyen is Memorial’s Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Health Policy Evaluation and Health Care Sustainability and is an associate professor in the School of Pharmacy.

“This award recognizes published research that has significantly contributed to the advancement of the field of health services and policy research in Canada,” stated the release.

Child-friendly flavours ban necessary

The recognition is a first for Memorial University and the School of Pharmacy and comes with a $10,000 award and certificate of excellence.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, the highest-ranking pediatric journal in the world, the article looks at whether Canada’s provincial bans on electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) sales to minors reduced their e-cigarette use.

“The most important finding was that the bans on e-cigarette sales to minors were effective at reducing youth e-cigarette use,” said Dr. Nguyen. “What may be surprising is that these bans work only partially, in the sense that these bans only slowed down rather than eliminate the increase in youth e-cigarette use.”

To reverse the increase in youth e-cigarette use, these bans will need to be supplemented with other policy measures such as a ban on e-cigarettes with child-friendly flavors, said Dr. Nguyen.

“I want my kids to stay away from e-cigarettes and more generally, all tobacco products.” — Dr. Hai Nguyen

As a parent of two children, this research has a special significance for Dr. Nguyen.

“E-cigarettes are unsafe for kids, teens and young adults,” he said. “Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development. Young people who use e-cigarettes may also be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future. I want my kids to stay away from e-cigarettes and more generally, all tobacco products.”

Public health decision making

The article was selected by the CIHR for its important contribution to advancing health policy research in Canada, and for showing a clear impact (or potential impact) on policy, practice or health outcomes.

“I am not at all surprised that Dr. Nguyen has received this award,” said Dr. Shawn Bugden, dean of Memorial’s School of Pharmacy.

“He is engaged in meaningful research across a range of important health policy areas, and it’s nice that CIHR recognized this work for the impact that is will clearly have in public health decision-making around e-cigarettes.”

The research project was funded through Dr. Nguyen’s Canada Research Chair, a CIHR New Investigator grant and a Janeway Foundation Research Award.

“This recognition will inspire me further and deepen my commitment to conduct high-quality research to inform policy-making and the public on pressing health policy issues in Canada and internationally,” said Dr. Nguyen.

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