Smokers urged to swap cigarettes for vapes in world first scheme
One million smokers will be encouraged to swap cigarettes for vapes under a pioneering new ‘swap to stop’ scheme designed to improve the health of the nation and cut smoking rates.
As part of the world-first national scheme, almost 1 in 5 of all smokers in England will be provided with a vape starter kit alongside behavioural support to help them quit the habit as part of a series of new measures to help the government meet its ambition of being smokefree by 2030 – reducing smoking rates to 5% or less. Local authorities will be invited to take part in the scheme later this year and each will design a scheme which suits its needs, including deciding which populations to prioritise.
In a speech today (11 April), Health Minister Neil O’Brien announced that following the success of local schemes, pregnant women will be offered financial incentives to help them stop smoking. This will involve offering vouchers, alongside behavioural support, to all pregnant women who smoke by the end of next year.
The government will also consult on introducing mandatory cigarette pack inserts with positive messages and information to help people to quit smoking.
Additionally, there will be a crackdown on illicit vape sales as part of measures to stop children and non-smokers take up the habit – which is growing in popularity among young people.
The new policies will deliver the government’s 3 aims to help more adults quit smoking, stop children and non-smokers from taking up vaping, and using vaping as a tool for established adult smokers to quit.
For those who quit, the risk of heart attack is halved after one year of quitting, ultimately halving the likelihood of ending up in a hospital bed or worse.
Supporting more women to have a smokefree pregnancy will 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.
Cutting smoking rates reduces the number of smoking-related illnesses needing to be treated, in turn reducing the pressure on the NHS, helping to deliver on our priority to cut NHS waiting lists.
NHS figures for 2021 showed that 9% of 11 to 15 year old children used e-cigarettes, up from 6% in 2018.