After years of the Welsh Senedd pushing against tobacco harm reduction, Wales now promotes vaping to smokers and is proving crucial to driving down smoking rates. NHS Wales is building on the success experienced in England to include advice about electronic cigarettes as part of its Help Me Quit service.
Since April 2020, there has been a rise of 48% in the number of smokers approaching the free Help Me Quit in order to sign up for help. A number of them expressed that fear of contracting Covid played a key role in their decision.
Welsh Director of Public Health, Stuart Bourne said: “Smokers are more at risk of getting coronavirus as
their lungs are weaker and because they have more hand-to-mouth contact. Once infected, a smoker is also much more likely to get serious complications from the virus.
“By quitting smoking, you can increase the efficiency of your lungs and the flow of oxygen into your blood. This is important because the more efficient your lungs are, the better your chances of recovering from coronavirus. We’re asking people who smoke to get in touch to access free support.”
The quit service in Leicester was the first to blaze ahead with the promotion of e-cigs to smokers. Ex-service manager Louise Ross, now the Chair of consumer charity The New Nicotine Alliance, has recalled how she was very sceptical about vaping in the beginning but talking to experts and reading the research convinced her that supporting smokers to change for a reduced harm solution could prove beneficial.
Gradually many other quit services followed suit, with Northamptonshire being the latest to offer free e-cig starter kits to tobacco users.
Help Me Quit warns smokers that vapes aren’t currently available on prescription, “as they are currently not licensed as a stop smoking medication. However, many smokers are using them to help them stop smoking.”
It’s a welcome reversal of fortune for would-be vapers in the Principality from when Mark Drakeford was pushing hard to vaping restricted to the point where it would have been almost banned.
Unlike Scotland and England, Wales still isn’t fully on board though. For example, “the use of e-cigarettes by pregnant women is not recommended.”
Professor Linda Bauld has spoken many times about the potential benefit of pregnant smokers switching to vaping that is shown in her research. Help Me Quit also states: “Usually, e-cigarettes contain nicotine. The use of nicotine by children and young people is unsafe as it can cause addiction and harm the developing adolescent brain. There are no benefits to children and young people in using e-cigarettes.”
In England, children who smoke have been offered nicotine-containing quit products for a number of years to help them quit tobacco.
Ultimately, Help Me Quit agrees with the other home nations: “If you are a smoker who is unable or doesn’t want to stop smoking now, then consider switching completely from smoking tobacco to only using an e-cigarette. Switching to an e-cigarette will significantly reduce the risks to your health compared to continuing smoking.”
E-Liquids UK serves thousands of loyal customers each year who live in Wales and we can help you quit smoking as well. Get in touch with one of our friendly staff today to start your vaping journey.