One in five smokers will be offered a vape as part of a new world-first scheme to cut smoking rates and improve the nation’s health.
The ‘swap to stop’ scheme will provide smokers with a vape starter kit alongside behavioural support to quit smoking in an attempt by the government to be smokefree by 2030.
Health Minister Neil O’Brien said: ‘Up to 2 out of 3 lifelong smokers will die from smoking. Cigarettes are the only product on sale which will kill you if used correctly. We will offer a million smokers new help to quit.’
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Local authorities will be involved later this year to each design a scheme that suits the local population.
This is part of the government’s three aims to help adults quit smoking, stop children and non-smokers from taking up vaping and using vaping as a tool for established adult smokers to quit.
O’Brien also announced that pregnant women will be offered financial incentives to stop them from smoking.
This will involve offering vouchers and behavioural support by the end of next year.
Professor Linda Bauld, director of the SPECTRUM Research Consortium and Co-Chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group welcome these incentives.
She said: ‘Incentives more than double the odds of women quitting during pregnancy, protecting babies from exposure to potentially deadly chemicals like carbon monoxide.
‘Incentive schemes have been successfully rolled out in places like Greater Manchester and are highly cost effective, with a return on investment of £4 for every £1 spent. A national scheme will reduce the burden on the NHS and help to get us on track to deliver a smokefree start for every child by 2030.’
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action On Smoking and Health (ASH), also welcomed the scheme calling it a step in the ‘right direction’ however she warned that it was ‘nowhere near sufficient.’
Arnott referred to the independent smoking review led by Javed Khan last year, which informed the measures set out yesterday, saying that not enough has changed to achieve the smokefree 2030 target.
‘Khan’s comprehensive strategy required funding of £125 million a year, many times more than the current announcements. Funding that’s desperately needed to reinstate cuts of more than 90% to mass media campaigns, and nearly a half to smoking cessation services and wider tobacco control. Not to mention the absence of the tougher regulations Khan recommended to raise the age of sale, and reduce the appeal of smoking as well as vaping.’
The DHSC reported that smoking prevalence in England in 2021 was 13%, a record low due to a number of measures introduced, including doubling duty on cigarettes since 2010.
However, 5.4 mill people smoke tobacco which remains the single biggest cause of preventable illness and death.
Hence why the DHSC have committed £35 mill to the NHS so that all smokers admitted to hospital will be offered NHS-funded tobacco treatment services.