Swap to Stop： UK Government Encouraging Smokers to Swap Cigarettes for Vapes
The UK government is launching a world-first national scheme called ‘swap to stop’ that encourages almost 1 in 5 of all smokers in England to switch from cigarettes to vapes. The initiative is part of a package of measures aimed at reducing smoking rates in the country and making England smoke-free by 2030. The government aims to reduce smoking rates to 5% or less. In addition to the vape starter kit, smokers will receive behavioral support to help them quit the habit.
The scheme is a positive step towards helping people quit smoking, as smoking is the single biggest cause of preventable illness and death in England. According to Health Minister Neil O’Brien, up to 2 out of 3 lifelong smokers will die from smoking. Cigarettes are the only product on sale that will kill you if used correctly. This is why the government is committed to helping more adults quit smoking and reducing the number of smoking-related illnesses needing treatment.
Supporting more women to have a smoke-free pregnancy will also reduce the number of babies born underweight or underdeveloped with health problems requiring neonatal and ongoing care. It will also reduce the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Pregnant women will be offered financial incentives, including vouchers and behavioral support, to help them quit smoking.
The government will also consult on introducing mandatory cigarette pack inserts with positive messages and information to help people to quit smoking. There will also be a crackdown on illicit vape sales as part of measures to stop children and non-smokers from taking up the habit, which is growing in popularity among young people.
NHS figures for 2021 showed that 9% of 11 to 15-year-old children used e-cigarettes, up from 6% in 2018. In recognition of the sharp increase, Minister O’Brien will launch a call for evidence on youth vaping to identify opportunities to reduce the number of children accessing and using vape products.
In addition to the ‘swap to stop’ scheme, £3 million of new funding will be provided to create a specialized ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’ to enforce the rules on vaping and tackle illicit vapes and underage sales. HMRC and Border Force will also be publishing an updated strategy this year to tackle illicit tobacco.
Smoking prevalence in England in 2021 was 13% – the lowest on record thanks to measures such as doubling duty on cigarettes since 2010 and continued funding to local stop smoking services. In 2021 to 2022, £68 million of public health grant funded was spent on stop smoking services by local authorities and nearly 100,000 people quit with the support of a stop smoking service. Moreover, £35 million has been committed to the NHS this year so that all smokers admitted to the hospital will be offered NHS-funded tobacco treatment services.
In conclusion, the ‘swap to stop’ scheme is an innovative approach to tackle the issue of smoking in England. It is a welcome move that will help to reduce smoking rates and prevent illness and death caused by smoking. The scheme will also provide support to pregnant women and reduce the number of babies born underweight or with health problems. The government’s commitment to creating a smoke-free England by 2030 is a laudable goal that will help to improve public health.
Will the ‘swap to stop’ scheme be mandatory for all smokers in England?
No, the scheme is voluntary, and smokers can choose to participate if they wish to quit smoking.
How will the government ensure that the vape starter kits are safe to use?
The government will work with local authorities to ensure that the vape starter kits meet safety standards and are of good quality.
How will the government prevent underage sales
The government will crack down on illicit vape sales as part of measures to stop children and non-smokers from taking up the habit. Additionally, £3 million of new funding will be provided to create a specialized ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’ to enforce the rules on vaping and tackle underage sales.
Will the financial incentives for pregnant women to quit smoking be available to all pregnant women in England?
Yes, all pregnant women who smoke will be offered vouchers and behavioral support to help them quit smoking by the end of next year.
How will the government ensure that smokers who quit using the ‘swap to stop’ scheme don’t start smoking again?
Smokers who quit using the ‘swap to stop’ scheme will receive behavioral support to help them stay smoke-free. The government will also consult on introducing mandatory cigarette pack inserts with positive messages and information to help people to quit smoking.