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Nicotine Research Group


Nicotine Research Group


Tobacco Use

Despite declines in smoking in the UK, smoking is still the largest single preventable cause of death and disease and health inequalities. A comprehensive tobacco control strategy has driven down smoking in England but consolidation of these strategies and new ones will be needed to drive rates down further.

Smoking and other tobacco use is largely driven by dependence on the drug, nicotine, which is contained in tobacco. Smoking cigarettes or roll-your-own tobacco is the most common form of tobacco use in the UK (around 10 million smokers), but other forms of tobacco are also smoked (such as waterpipes or shisha) and a significant proportion of the South Asian population in the UK chew tobacco. Smoking is the most harmful form of tobacco and nicotine use.  Most tobacco users wish to stop or reduce the harmfulness of their tobacco use.

Our research focuses on understanding what international, national and local policies and interventions will: 1) help existing tobacco users to stop as soon as possible; 2) reduce the uptake of tobacco; and 3) reduce the harmfulness of nicotine use for those who wish to continue using it (for example by using other forms of non-combustible nicotine delivery).

Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have recently become popular among smokers and ex-smokers. These use battery power to heat a solution of propylene glycol or glycerine, water, flavouring and usually nicotine to release an aerosol that can be inhaled the user. As they do not contain tobacco and do not rely on combustion they are considerably less harmful forms of nicotine delivery to the user than smoking.

Our research also assesses trends in e-cigarette use and knowledge, attitudes and beliefs towards e-cigarettes in a variety of different population groups.

Our Research Team 

We work closely with colleagues in the South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, most notably Mary Yates (Modern Matron) and the Maudsley Hospital Smoking Service.

We play a leading role in the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS) one of five UKCRC-funded Public Health Research Centres of Excellence, and a consortium of 13 universities (12 in the UK, one in New Zealand) working to reduce the harm to individuals and society caused by tobacco use. Ann McNeill is a Deputy Director of the centre and leads the teaching and training theme at the centre. King’s has recently developed a new UKCTAS alcohol module as part of its MSc in Addiction Studies.

Our research spans prevention, cessation and harm reduction and informs tobacco control policy locally, nationally and internationally. We have contributed to White Papers on tobacco, National Institute for Clinical and Public Health Excellence, Department of Health, Public Health England and Action on Smoking and Health strategies and reports.  We chair or are active members of various committees concerning tobacco, such as the Public Health England Implementation Board, Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group, Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (international and European Chapter), the Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health national roundtable and Make Every Contact Count and we meet regularly with a variety of stakeholders and policy-makers. We collaborate with academics at the UKCTAS and with a number of other academic groups working in the field internationally.

We have a particular interest in reducing the health inequalities caused by smoking and have several studies underway with smokers with mental health problems.


This is an exciting time to work in nicotine research, particularly with the growth in popularity of electronic cigarettes.  If you are interested in working with us then please do get in touch.

For any queries or for further information, please contact the Addictions Departmental Administrator on 020 7848 0487 or email 

Nicotine Research Group

National Addiction Centre

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience

King’s College London

4 Windsor Walk



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