New DECIPHer PhD Student – Elen de Lacy


This October I started a PhD with DECIPHer at Cardiff University looking at the use of electronic (e)-cigarettes by young people and the role they play in young people’s lives. I have a background in public health, and in particular tobacco control, having worked for 7 years for the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Wales Cymru as Research and Policy Officer, and then Chief Executive.

E-cigarettes have become a very topical and rapidly developing area in tobacco control in recent years, and this is something which has dominated the policy agenda in Wales. Understanding the use of e-cigarettes by young people holds a real interest to me as there has been relatively little research in this area. I am also particularly interested in investigating the relationship between e-cigarette use, and the use of tobacco and other substances. This topic is important as health professionals and policy makers, both in Wales and across the UK, are concerned that the use of e-cigarettes by young people could undermine tobacco control policies, and may re-normalise or even glamorise smoking.

When a PhD opportunity arose at DECIPHer, to look at the use of e-cigarettes among young people, I didn’t hesitate to apply. I had considered undertaking a PhD since completing a Master’s in Public Health at Swansea University, and I felt this emerging and fast moving area would keep me engrossed during the course of my PhD.

Another important draw was being based in DECIPHer. At ASH Wales I had worked with DECIPHer on a number research projects, so I knew first hand of their excellent reputation as a Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. DECIPHer PhD students are located in the same area as DECIPHer staff. We attend DECIPHer staff meetings and there is an expectation that we treat the PhD like a full-time job. I feel this is important and that having this structure and support will stand me in good stead for my forthcoming studies! I am only a month into my PhD but already feel I will be able to make a valuable contribution to public health research through this PhD and into the future.


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