With the annual NHS push to get smokers to switch or quit underway, we ask if vaping has the potential to save the health service £2.6 billion. It is now accepted that electronic cigarettes pose a fraction of the risk of smoking, and studies show they work 3-6 times better than nicotine replacement products like patches or gum – so what could this mean to the United Kingdom.
What stops smokers from switching to vaping?
Martin Dockrell, the Tobacco Control Lead at Public Health England explained one of the biggest reasons why smokers don’t swap to electronic cigarettes: “Misunderstanding among smokers and the general public of the dangers of e-cigarettes continues to grow.”
This and a bad experience with poor quality products colour their impressions – with a sizeable number seeing vaping as just switching one bad habit for another. Recent evidence showed that over a quarter of smokers in England mistakenly think vaping is as harmful as smoking.
How many people manage to quit smoking by switching to e-cigs?
It is estimated that vaping helps 18,000 long-term smokers quit each year in England alone, but a recent evidence update puts this figure at closer to 57,000.
Also, a recent study from Italy shows that vaping daily as well as smoking encourages accidental quitting – were smokers who didn’t plan to stop tobacco use found they preferred to vape rather than smoke.
If vaping works, what can be done to change people’s minds and address misunderstandings?
The National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training has moved to encourage more local stop smoking services to encourage switching to vaping. Along with a government department, the Centre has issued a document to all quit services explaining why and how they can use vaping to get more smokers to quit.
What does the document say?
One example addresses the misconception held by many – including some in quit services – that nicotine use is a problem.
“The evidence shows that while nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes, it is relatively harmless and nicotine-containing products are effective for smoking cessation. In fact, almost all the harm from smoking comes from the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which are toxic.”
It explains in clear terms why services should offer e-cigarettes, why vaping is a popular method of quitting, and how other stop smoking services are seeing positive quit rates when using e-cigarettes.
The document points out that e-cigs “aren’t risk-free but carry a fraction of the risk of smoking and are helping thousands of smokers to quit and stay smoke-free.”
It also includes quotations from expert bodies about vaping, such as this one from the British Medical Association: “There is growing consensus that using an e-cigarette is substantially safer than smoking tobacco. Unlike smoking, e-cigarette use does not involve combustion. While the constituents of e-cigarette vapour can vary, and some of the toxicants present in tobacco smoke have been detected in e-cigarette aerosol, they are typically present at levels that are much lower than in tobacco smoke.
With 6.7 million adult smokers in England costing the NHS £2.6 billion per year, encouraging smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes could prove a real money saver.
If you know a friend or family member who you think should give up smoking, you should introduce them to E-Liquids UK where they can be guided through the process of switching to vaping and save money.