Vaping on NHS backed by almost a third in Yorkshire survey

Should e-cigarettes be available on NHS prescription?

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 17th March 2022, 1:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th March 2022, 1:46 pm
e-Cigarettes
e-Cigarettes

Almost a third of those asked in a new Yorkshire survey believe they should.

GoSmokeFree.co.uk questioned 1,200 respondents to gauge their views toward vaping as a means of helping smokers cut down their tobacco use and subsequently, reduce the overall harm to society.

They asked for their opinions on vaping as a tobacco harm reduction plan, asking if e-cigarettes should be reconsidered and made available on the NHS, rather than being regulated as consumer products.

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Thirty two percent – so almost one in three – believed e-cigarettes and vaping products should be available on NHS prescription, considering their health benefits in helping tobacco users to quit the habit.

For many cigarette smokers, quitting can be difficult due to how regularly some light up during the day. So having a less risky habit. as e-cigarettes are regarded by many, can help the journey to quitting completely.

Tobacco smoking rates in Yorkshire remained the highest in the country as of 2019, according to Yorkshire Cancer Research.

The region’s smoking rate was revealed to be 16.2% (an estimated 700,000 people), which was higher than the England average of 14.4%.

Tobacco smoking is the cause of at least 15 different cancers, with lung cancer being the most common in the Yorkshire region.

The survey also discovered that 30% of respondents believed the government should delegalise cigarettes, considering the major health risks involved not only for the individual smoker, but for people who are subsequently exposed to second-hand smoke. Additionally, 35% said they don’t believe anti-smoking laws are strict enough and should be toughened.

Another survey also found that nearly half (45%) of current smokers said they have been smoking more during the pandemic, since the start of the first lockdown, where social distancing restrictions were strictly in place; and 43% of these said it was out of sheer boredom.

Yorkshire Cancer Research shows that an estimated 270,000 people in Yorkshire vape regularly, with more than half saying the main reason is using e-cigarettes to try quit tobacco smoking.

Vape to Quit is a campaign by Yorkshire Cancer Research, which encourages smokers to consider e-cigarettes as a tool to stop tobacco use. According to an evidence review published by Public Health England, vaping is approximately 95% safer than smoking cigarettes.

The survey also found that of ex-smokers who switched up their habit to vaping, nearly half (47%) said the biggest benefit of quitting tobacco has been feeling overall healthier. More than one in five (21%) said vaping is far cheaper compared to smoking cigarettes.

Another 17% of vapers said that e-cigarettes are safer in general – possibly because it doesn’t involve using a flame, as doesn’t produce tar or carbon monoxide. Seven percent said they enjoy the fewer after-effects of e-cigarettes, as compared to tobacco. Lastly, eight percent said they enjoy the variety of products that come along with vaping and e-cigarettes.

The NHS currently discussed the use of e-cigarettes on its website, detailing that they may help smokers manage nicotine cravings while they’re trying to quit.

Vapes and e-cigarettes carry only a small percentage of the health risks that are typically associated with smoking tobacco products.

The risks include the fact that burning a cigarette produces carbon monoxide and tar: two of the most dangerous components in tobacco smoke. Currently, e-cigarettes are not available on prescription on the NHS; they are instead regulated as consumer products.

In 2017, the annual Stoptober campaign was the very first time the UK government had promoted the use of e-cigarettes as a tool for helping tobacco smokers ditch the unsavoury habit.

The stop-smoking campaign encourages people not to smoke during the month and beyond. Research shows if a smoker can stop for 28 days, they are far more likely to quit completely.

Stoptober has helped to encourage 2.3 million cigarette smokers to make an attempt to quit since it was launched a decade ago in 2012.

Despite the fact that e-cigarettes and vape products are not available on the NHS currently, health professionals are encouraged to promote the benefits of e-cigarettes as a better alternative to the habit.

But most respondents said they don’t believe health authorities have been doing enough to encourage smokers to ditch the habit by switching to vaping.

More than half (51%) also said they believe tobacco smokers should pay an elevated tax rate, given the increased burden that smoking-related issues place on both the NHS and government. Additionally, 61% of people said they weren’t aware that £12.6 billion per year is what smoking costs to the UK government.

These costs factor in things like smoking-related hospital admissions, community support and other society-related factors.

A reduced smoking rate is associated with many benefits for both individual smokers, and society as a whole. Reducing smoking rates will save the NHS up to an estimation of £890 million per year.

Some of these health benefits are reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and various cancers, including throat, lung and stomach; less exposure of non-smokers to the dangers of second-hand tobacco smoke and circulation for smokers.

Those surveyed also believe cost plays a significant factor when it comes to encouraging people to change up their habits to healthier ones. Sixty-three percent of respondents said vaping and e-cigarette products should be tax-free in cost in order to encourage smokers to switch up their habits.