Public Health England says switching to vaping can improve your mental health and one of the industry organisations has repeated the message following Mental Health week.
Public Health England’s Tobacco Control lead has said that vaping offers more benefits than just reducing harm from smoking, Martin Dockrell has argued that switching can also improve your mental health. Following the national Mental Health week, a leading trade body has added to the message that binning cigarettes and picking up a vape kit can be beneficial.
Who is Martin Dockrell?
Martin Dockrell came to harm reduction when helping to fight against the scourge of AIDS during the 1980s. He is a staunch advocate of evidence-based policymaking and has championed the use of electronic cigarettes since taking up his role as Tobacco Control lead.
What has Martin said?
“Everyone knows smoking is very bad for physical health. But what about its impact on mental health? Many smokers believe that smoking helps to relieve stress, anxiety and low mood, when in fact the opposite is true.
“New data analysis published by Public Health England shows the strong association between smoking and poor mental wellbeing. In surveys by the Office for National Statistics, smokers score worse than the population as a whole on every mental wellbeing indicator.
“The benefits of quitting smoking for mental health and wellbeing are set out in a new Cochrane review. It updates a meta-analysis from 2014 looking at what happens to people’s mental health when they have quit, once they have passed the stage of withdrawal.”
What did the Cochrane Study find?
People who stopped smoking showed greater reductions in:
- Mixed anxiety and depression
People who stopped smoking showed greater improvements in:
- Symptoms of stress
- Positive feelings
- Mental wellbeing
How does this relate to vaping?
Martin Dockrell concluded that the use of electronic cigarettes “has increased in recent years and have become the most popular stop smoking aid in England, with the majority of users now ex-smokers having made the switch completely.
“We know that face-to-face support from a local stop smoking service offers smokers the most effective way to quit. Of the smokers who combine the two (the most popular and most effective) around two-thirds quit smoking successfully.”
What did the trade body say?
The UK Vape Trade Association harked to a statement from Public Health England that said, “1 in 3 cigarettes is smoked by someone with a mental health condition”, so getting them to quit has become an “overriding priority.”
“Right now, recognising how effective vaping is in getting smokers to stop, many UK mental health trusts allow the use of vaping products on their premises in areas separate from regular smokers – many even provide e-cigarettes free to their patients.”
The Association highlights that it’s not just mental health services that are embracing e-cigarettes as the leading method to help people kick tobacco for good: in 2019, after several hospitals banned smoking altogether on their premises, two NHS hospitals took the bold step of allowing vape shops to open within their property.
Plus, a fortnight ago, it was announced that a number of NHS Trusts are now taking part in a trial that will see them giving e-cig starter kits to smokers presenting in emergency departments.
The Association concludes: “The UKVIA and its members have worked tirelessly over the last five years to promote the benefits of vaping compared to smoking, and we are now starting to see not only mental health services, but the wider NHS and esteemed health protection organisations including PHE and Cancer Research UK, extolling the virtues of e-cigarettes as the best, most effective method for helping smokers to quit their habit for good.”