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Beyond the buffet table: celebrating the past to inform the future

Dr Nicola Lindson-Hawley, Cochrane Managing Editor

Dr Nicola Lindson-Hawley, Cochrane Managing Editor

The Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group (CTAG) are one of Cochrane’s many subject specific editorial groups, which specialises in reviewing the evidence for the prevention and treatment of tobacco addiction. CTAG’s work has been used to inform healthcare guidance worldwide.

I began working as a Managing Editor for CTAG just over a year ago, at the beginning of 2015, and quickly came to the realisation that we were approaching the 20th Anniversary of the group (founded in 1996). This led to a few flippant comments of ‘We should celebrate!’ with visions of a little private celebration with a few cakes and crisps. Until, at a meeting about something else entirely, myself and another of our Managing Editors- Jamie Hartmann-Boyce– decided to take this a little more seriously- beyond the buffet table. Along with one of our Editors- Robert West- it was decided that anything we did do to celebrate should go beyond ‘fluff’, by publicising the group’s work and looking to the future. After all, 20 years of hard work by the most senior and long-term members of the team – Tim Lancaster (Co-ordinating Editor) and Lindsay Stead (Managing Editor and Search Co-ordinator) – certainly deserved for this to be taken seriously.

Quickly the idea to make this an opportunity to set our priorities for the future emerged, and as our ambitions grew so did the required budget. Certainly beyond the tenner needed for a few cakes and a big bag of cheese and onion! This led to a scramble to get together a protocol for our project that we could use to apply for some kind of funding in time for 2016. So, to cut a long story short…

This year we were awarded funding by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research to hold a workshop with our stakeholders at the University of Oxford in June. These stakeholders will include smokers, former smokers, researchers, health professionals, funders, commissioners and guideline developers. We will be asking them what they think the priorities for CTAG should be, but firstly we will present to them the results of a survey that we are carrying out now, and we need your help with!

We are asking anyone with an interest in the field of smoking and tobacco (personal or professional) to fill out a very short questionnaire. Respondents are asked to provide us with up to four questions they still think need to be answered in the field of tobacco control. This could be something like: ‘Do nicotine patches help people to stop smoking?’ It’s as simple as that! This will give us a list of uncertainties that still exist in the field, which we will write up and publish, so that we can use the information to inform future research. It will also be used by our workshop participants and independent facilitators to adapt these into priorities for CTAG specifically.

Not only will results of our project be published but we are planning to present it at conferences, and Evidence Live is one of them. At the time of Evidence Live we will have just held our workshop, so not only will I be able to share the results of our survey, but also our experiences in carrying out an exciting project such as this. We’ve ended up a long way from our original day dreams (of a few bowls of nibbles and a balloon or two), but isn’t that the way with any research project. We’re glad we rebuffed the fluff, it’s making for an exciting year ahead.

To support our project and inform the future of the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group then please complete our short online survey here. It only needs to take as long as you would like it to and the results will really make a difference. Also if you are interested in attending our Prioritisation Workshop at Somerville College on the 17th June 2016 then please contact Dr Nicola Lindson-Hawley at For more information about the project visit the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group here.


Nicola will be presenting an abstract on Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group at Evidence Live. For more information and to view the draft programme, please click here

2017 Highlights