Nicotine & Tobacco: Current issues, Policy and Practice / 21st – 24th May 2018 / University of Stirling

Building on our previous CPD courses on tobacco control and alcohol policy, the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies is delighted to be offering our Nicotine & Tobacco CPD course at the University of Stirling in 2018!

Please note: If you book on/before 28th February 2018, the cost is: £499, or £649 for students seeking accreditation. 

The course, successfully introduced in 2015, is aimed at professionals working in a range of organisations who are interested in public health and policy in the UK or internationally. In addition to the topics covered at previous tobacco CPDs, this year we will be examining the current, up to date evidence on tobacco harm reduction, electronic cigarettes and other nicotine-containing devices.

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

• Describe and discuss patterns of tobacco consumption, prevalence and addiction and the rise of e-cigarette use.
• Assess key milestones in tobacco and nicotine policy and the contribution of policy in developing and implementing effective interventions.
• Critically discuss the role of commercial interests, including the tobacco industry, in promoting tobacco use and recent controversies regarding the e-cigarette industry.
• Describe and discuss the range of effective interventions to reduce tobacco use and the place of tobacco harm reduction, including e-cigarettes, in addressing tobacco use.
• Assess the potential impact of current and emerging tobacco control priorities on different population groups, including tobacco harm reduction approaches.
• Discuss principles of media advocacy as applied to current issues in tobacco control.

*NEW FOR 2018*


Deborah Arnott, Action on Smoking & Health (ASH)
Prof. Kamran Siddiqi, University of York
Crawford Moodie, University of Stirling

Upcoming Tobacco & Alcohol courses now taking applications: limited places available!


“Tobacco Control Interventions”
29th Jan – 2nd Feb 2018
University of Nottingham

Closing date for applications: 16th January 2018

This year we will be discussing important factors in tobacco control including; youth smoking, the role of the tobacco industry, use of mass media for smoking prevention and cessation, smokefree legislation, harm reduction and the neurobiology of nicotine addiction.


“Alcohol, Problems, Policy & Practice” 
5th – 9th February 2018
Kings College London

Early bird deadline: 21st December 2017

The course is a mixture of blended learning, with face-to-face lectures being held in February 2018. It is open to all UKCTAS researchers as well as students of the MSc in Addiction Studies.


“Nicotine and Tobacco CPD”
21st – 24th May 2018
University of Stirling

Early bird deadline: 28th February 2018

In addition to the topics covered on our previous tobacco control CPD, we will also be examining in detail the current evidence on tobacco harm reduction, electronic cigarettes and other nicotine-containing devices.

More information about these courses can be found on our website @

Introducing a new International Workshop: The Ubiquity of Alcohol – 20/09/2017

We are delighted to announce the launch of a brand new international workshop focusing on the ubiquity of alcohol.

Addressing Marketing, Availability and Industry Influence:

Alcohol is no ordinary commodity but its presence and marketing seem ubiquitous. In this workshop, we will explore how policymakers, public health experts and researchers are responding to industry efforts to expand the presence and normality of alcohol in our lives. With inputs from leading international researchers and advocates we will explore alcohol marketing and availability in a digital age; industry manoeuvres, and potential countermeasures.

This years workshop will feature sessions from a variety of speakers including a session on Alcohol Marketing and the loi Évin, which is a French alcohol and tobacco policy that was passed in 1991. In this session Nathan Critchlow from the University of Stirling and Prof Karine Gallopel-Morvan from the EHESP School of Public Health, France will look at consumer marketing of alcohol brands in a digital age, controlling alcohol advertising and lessons learnt from the loi Évin.

We also have inputs from a variety of speakers from a number of organisations that focus on alcohol harm, including Jon Foster from the Institute of Alcohol Studies and Alison Douglas & Laura Mahon from Alcohol Focus Scotland.

We are also pleased to announce that Prof. Mike Daube from Curtin University, Australia will be joining us to discuss advocacy on alcohol advertising and the influence of the alcohol industry. To discuss the alcohol industry in more detail we also welcome Prof. Jeff Collin from the University of Edinburgh. Jeff is a regular speaker at the Alcohol Policy in Practice CPD and provides a deep insight into the alcohol industry actions.

The Ubiquity of Alcohol

Location: University of Stirling

Date: Wednesday 20th September

Cost: Standalone workshop cost: £150.00


This workshop is included in our 4 day Alcohol Policy in Practice CPD course we run every September, to find out more information about this course and it’s content please click here.


Congratulations to Suzi Gage for winning the AAAS Early Career Public Engagement Award!

Suzanne Gage, a scientist whose podcast, “Say Why To Drugs,” has received over 264,000 listens, has been chosen by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to receive the 2016 Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science.

screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-09-32-03Gage recently completed her post-doctoral research in the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol, and is now a scientist at the University of Liverpool. She also founded “Sifting the Evidence,” a blog on The Guardian’s website in which she examines epidemiology, mental health and substance abuse. She is being honored by AAAS for “her evidence-based approach to public engagement activities and targeting audiences who may not be actively seeking science information.”

Gage is a “highly talented, enthusiastic and energetic young researcher who promises to be a real star of the future,” wrote Marcus Munafò, a professor of biological psychology at the University of Bristol, where Gage was a post-doctoral research associate until December. Through her blog and podcast, Munafò wrote, “Suzi has worked tirelessly to provide information to the general public about the scientific evidence surrounding the effects of recreational drugs.”

Her podcast, which she was inspired to produce after appearing on rapper Scroobius Pip’s podcast, discusses a different recreational drug in each episode. Gage aims to counter misinformation and myths surrounding various substances. Munafò noted that Pip’s involvement in the podcast has helped Gage reach an audience of young adults who might not otherwise receive the information. Pip emphasized that the program is not meant to condone drug use.

“This is not a pro-drugs podcast, this is not anti-drugs podcast,” Pip explained, “this is pro-truth and anti-myth.”

The podcast has topped the Science and Medicine chart in the iTunes store and has received support on Twitter, including from Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. It also won the Skeptic Magazine 2016 Ockham Award for Best Podcast. Munafò wrote that the show has also been used by teachers to introduce their students to evidence-based thinking.

Gage has also traveled across the United Kingdom, speaking at “Skeptics in the Pub,” evening events hosted by local organizations to promote critical thinking. She has spoken at the Royal Institution of Great Britain and music festivals in the UK.

She engaged with younger audiences in 2011 by participating in “I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here,” an online event where students meet and interact with scientists. The scientists compete with one other, answering questions about science and their research that are provided by students, who then vote for their favorite scientist. Gage won in the “Brain Zone” category and used the winnings to start her podcast.

Gage’s work in public engagement was recognized in 2012, when she won the UK Science Blog Prize, and in 2013, when she received the British Association for Psychopharmacology Public Communication Award. She has also written for The Economist, The Telegraph and The Lancet Psychiatry.

Gage’s recent scientific work in studying the relationship between health behaviors and mental health outcomes has included investigating causal associations from observational studies, with particular emphasis on substance use and mental health. She earned a Master of Science degree in cognitive neuropsychology from University College London in 2005 and a Ph.D. in translational epidemiology from the University of Bristol in 2014. Her research also earned her the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Travel Award in 2012. More recently, she received the Society for Research in Nicotine and Tobacco’s 2015 Basic Science Network Travel Award.

The AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science was established in 2010 to recognize “early-career scientists and engineers who demonstrate excellence in their contribution to public engagement with science activities.” The recipient receives a monetary prize of $5,000, a commemorative plaque, complimentary registration to the AAAS Annual Meeting and reimbursement for reasonable travel and hotel expenses to attend the AAAS Annual Meeting to receive the prize.

The award will be bestowed upon Gage during the 183rd AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, Feb. 16-20, 2017. The AAAS Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, in the Republic Ballroom of the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

images-duckduckgo-comSuzanne Gage completed her post-doctoral research at the University of Bristol and is now a scientist at the University of Liverpool. She has written for The GuardianThe Economist, The Telegraph and The Lancet Psychiatry.


Alcohol, Problems, Policy and Practice Course returns to King’s College London in February 2017

After a successful launch of the module in February 2016 we are delighted to announce the Alcohol, Problems, Policy and Practice module will return in 2017 to King’s College London. In 2017 we have confirmed a large number of top class speakers to discuss important areas of this public health issue. With topics ranging from alcohol and pregnancy, alcohol marketing and brief interventions, we can guarantee this course is invaluable to anyone working in this area.



• Enhance students’ understanding of research methods by focusing on current research in alcohol policy and interventions.
• Enable critical appraisal of evidence in alcohol policy interventions.
• Explore the role and perspectives of key stakeholders including the alcohol industry and the role of media and marketing in alcohol use.


This module is coordinated by the Addictions Department at King’s College London jointly with the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS) and has been facilitated by Prof. Ann Mcneill, Dr. Niamh Fitzgerald and Dr. Sadie Boniface.


Leading academics from King’s College London and across the 13 universities in the UKCTAS will present and discuss the latest evidence. Speakers will also include Dr. Matt Egan (LSHTM), Dr. Zarnie Khadjesari (KCL), Prof. Gerard Hastings (Stirling), Prof. Ann McNeill (KCL), Dr. Niamh Fitzgerald (Stirling), Dr. Ben Hawkins (LSHTM) and many others. Many of the inputs have broader public health relevance beyond alcohol, to other health issues such as tobacco, obesity and inequalities. An updated programme will be available later in 2016.


The module will be delivered via blended learning with online materials available from January 2017, followed by a week of classroom sessions the week commencing 6th February 2017.


In 2017 we will be opening the course to UKCTAS affiliated organisations and those working in public health, community safety or a related field. If you are unsure about its suitability for your needs or for information about fees, please contact Dr. Sadie Boniface (


Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
Student numbers are capped at 40 to ensure an effective learning experience and teacher-student ratio.
Early bird discounts apply until 17th November 2016.
Applications will not be taken after 6th January 2017.

More information is available on our website!


ECR Conference 13/07 – Final sessions and round up!

Dealing with supervisors – Andy Jones (Psychological Sciences, University of Liverpool) 

Andy gave a telling and sometimes humorous talk on supervisors and how to work with them. He highlighted that the Postgraduate Research Experience survey found that supervision experience was rated by students as the most important part of their PhD, and 5 common themes emerged:

  1. Communication difficulties between student and supervisor
    2. Control – constant supervision controlling the direction of the PhD
    3. Academic bullying – supervisors showing superiority/abuse of student
    4. Desertion – moving jobs, ‘deserting’ the student
    5. Lack of trust – requesting data, using it and not acknowledging the student

Andy presented some pieces of advice from a blog post called ‘tough love’ by Chris Chambers in Cardiff (

At supervisor meetings – watch your

  • time management (supervisors are busy)
  • be clear in what you want
  • keep detailed notes of the meetings
  • be assertive (standing up for what you are and want without harming others), not aggressive (largely harming others)
  • use local (other PhD students) and wider support networks

Here are some useful online resources:

More information:

The experience of obtaining a fellowship, inspiration, hints and tips!  – Dr Ilze Bogdanovica (Senior Research Fellow, University of Nottingham)

Ilze was awarded a Cancer Research UK fellowship in 2016.

The benefits of her fellowship?
6 years, more stability, opportunity to develop career in the right direction, a step to becoming an independent researcher.

What makes a successful application?
Timing – in this case several tobacco control policies being implemented in recent times, therefore an evaluation of such policies was timely
Topic – must correspond with funder’s priority areas, which it did
Also the existence of support networks and senior investigators, if utilised by the fellow is a strong point in Fellowship applications.

The interview – make sure you:
Practice, practice, practice
Keep the language simple (avoid great jargon)
when preparing, ask others for their opinion
Practice mock interview
Be ready

At the interview, show passion, enthusiasm and confidence!

Ilze ended by emphasising – ‘it’s hard but worth it!’

UKCTAS Communication Strategies – Chris Hill (UKCTAS Digital Media & Centre Support Officer, University of Nottingham)

Chris gave a fascinating talk on media coverage and how best to utilise media such as Facebook, twitter and general internet resources and support networks, reminding those present too update him of any work they need disseminating to the wider network.

Did you know people spend on average at least 34 minutes watching/listening to news coverage every day? Most of which is consumed on a smart phone/device.

Overseas research collaborations case study: UK-Uruguay Tobacco and Alcohol Research Network – Graeme Docherty (Research Coordinator, University of Nottingham)

Graeme summarised a British Council sponsored workshop which take took place in Uruguay earlier in 2016 and for which new collaborations have started.

A research network has been created and more information on this and potential future areas of work is at

ECR conference 13/07 update – What our PhD students are working on?

In this session, we heard from four PhD students who briefed the group on their proposals, what they have done, what they plan still to do, and what they have learnt that could be useful to others.

Leah Jayes, University of Nottingham – Smoke-free policies in English Prisons

This innovative university funded project involves measuring particle concentration levels (PM2.5) in a sample of prisons in England and then again once a smoke-free policy has been implemented. The aim is to evaluate the impact of a smoke-free policy in a small number of prisons which will provide evidence to the UK government for rolling out the policy across the prison network in England & Wales. The results have already influenced decision makers. Preliminary work now published in BMC Public Health. 2016 Feb 4;16:119. doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-2757-y
More information:

Inge Kersbergen, University of Liverpool – Cognitive processing of alcohol advertising

Inge spoke about her UKCTAS funded PhD, which consists of 8 studies assessing cognitive processing of alcohol-related persuasive messages, involving responsible drinking messages and alcohol advertising.

Sustaining motivation
Her presentation contained a fascinating insight as to what she did around her PhD – teaching/co-supervision, involvement in other publications, conference workshops and being a reviewer of papers. Time management and sustaining motivation were seen as essential for Inge, and it was easy to ‘waste’ too much time on paperwork such as ethics applications, recruiting subjects and writing/submitting papers. So what is the solution?

Plan well in advance and don’t things until the last minute/hour/day/week.
Motivation can be difficult to sustain in experimental work and the key is to manage these emotions with Inge advising to take some time off (tea  break, one full day) as things are likely to look better after some time out. Some suggestions for preventing de-motivation:

  • Keep strict working hours
  • Network with other PhD students, not just in your department
  • Keep a variety of things that need to be done – not just the same old stuff
  • Recognise when you are procrastinating
  • Take some time out regularly to recharge

More information:

Paul Weate, University of Bath – Alcohol, social media and young people

Paul prepared a presentation on his PhD funded by the University of Bath, which studies the role of images and text relating to alcohol on social media with regard to young adults’ social identities.
The aim of the project is to 1) socially situate the role of alcohol consumption and social media use in young adults’ social lives and 2) assess how young people make sense of these factors in shaping their own social identities. This involves mainly qualitative work using 9 focus groups and 16 interviews, together with qualitative methods of analysis. Paul’s challenges in his PhD include:

  • Recruiting over 150 participants
  • Coordinating and transcribing focus groups/interviews
  • Carrying out thematic analyses

More information:

Daisy Thompson-Lake, Queen Mary University, London – Alcohol, obesity  and behavioural change
Daisy’s UKCTAS funded PhD is on the topic of distress tolerance (DT) – an interesting factor not widely mentioned in addiction literature. DT relates to the strength of an individual to withstand uncomfortable experiences in order to achieve greater goal. Level of DT may be a predictor of person’s ability to quit/cut down/lose weight. There are various ways of measuring DT, and one of the ways is holding the breath, an examination of which forms part of Daisy’s PhD.
More information: