Vapes to Help Smokers Quit

A new study from the University of East Anglia lends credence to government initiatives that distribute free electronic cigarettes to disadvantaged populations trying to quit smoking.

Researchers found that most people who successfully switched from smoking to vaping felt that having e-cigarettes supplied by the health system would have aided their transition if available at the time. However, some still prefer the autonomy of shopping for vaping products themselves.

Background on NHS Stop Smoking Initiatives

In 2023, a “Swap-to-Stop” program was announced in the UK providing one million free e-cigarette starter kits to disadvantaged smokers looking to quit. This forms part of the nation’s “Smokefree 2030” goal of reducing smoking rates to under 5%.

E-cigarettes will be distributed through the National Health Service (NHS) to low-income smokers in treatment programs. Products given out are commercially available vaping devices that users can purchase themselves.

Study Methodology and Findings

The University of East Anglia study aimed to gauge how beneficial smokers feel this NHS-provided vaping assistance might be.

Researchers interviewed 136 adults across the UK who had already quit smoking through vaping. Nearly all transitioned without any professional smoking cessation support.

  • The vast majority said free e-cigarettes and guidance from the NHS would have aided their switch from smoking if available.
  • NHS vaping support provides reassurance on effectiveness and safety.
  • However, some prefer choosing vaping products themselves at shops based on personal preferences.
  • Even those given NHS vapes would likely still shop commercially for ongoing supplies.

Conclusions on Medical vs Commercial Routes to Vaping

Lead author Dr. Emma Ward concludes there is room for both NHS-assisted and independent commercial pathways to transition from smoking to vaping.

The study shows providing free starter e-cigarette kits can help disadvantaged groups quit smoking when incorporated into treatment programs.

At the same time, retaining the retail market satisfies those who see vaping as a consumer choice and want to hand-select devices and e-liquids tailored to their needs.

This research supports the value of the NHS “Swap-to-Stop” initiative while also emphasizing the continued importance of consumer vaping product access. Offering both medical and commercial avenues can allow vaping to reach its maximum potential for smoking cessation.

Quotes from Study Authors

“Vaping being available via health care professionals offers reassurance around the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping people quit smoking and potential harms.” – Dr. Emma Ward

“People who vape believe they have benefited from being able to choose vaping products in shops to get the right mix of device and flavors to work best for them to help them to permanently stop smoking.”

“We argue that there is a place for both commercial and medical routes to vaping to help people stop smoking.”

Matthew Ma