“Landmark moment for vaping and harm reduction” according to UK Vaping Industry Association as ground-breaking NHS trial announced
The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), the largest industry body representing the sector, has heralded the decision by the NHS to provide e-cigarettes to smokers attending A&E departments as a “landmark moment”.
As part of a trial being led by the University of East Anglia, for the first time ever from this Autumn the NHS will provide vaping devices and e-liquids to smokers coming to the emergency departments of five hospitals across the UK to help them quit.
For years, the UKVIA has campaigned for vaping to be recognised as the best and most effective method for reducing smoking, with health protection organisations including Public Health England and Cancer Research UK all backing e-cigarettes’ use in cessation services.
Just this week Cancer Research UK reiterated its support for vaping as a treatment to help smokers to quit and Public Health England has repeatedly stated that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking.
The trial, which is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research, comes as shocking new data released by Mintel showed that 39% of smokers aged 18-34 said they were now smoking more regularly due to stress from Covid-19. It also revealed that 10% of former smokers had restarted their habit since the start of the pandemic. In addition, according to experts Emergency Departments see over 24m people each year of whom around a quarter are current smokers.
Now, as part of a clinical trial, patients attending A&E in five hospitals in Norfolk, London, Leicester, and Edinburgh will be offered a device, enough e-liquid supplies for a week, and referral to local smoking-cessation services, alongside medical advice.
Crucially this will be followed up at one, three and six month intervals over a 30 month period, to monitor success rates for those introduced to vaping, compared to those only offered leaflets with details of local smoking-cessation services in the same trial.
“This is a hugely significant moment in the history of vaping and harm reduction,” says John Dunne, Director General of the UKVIA.
“For the first time, following years of research and campaigning, we are finally at the point where the NHS looks to be fully embracing vaping and acknowledging its important role as the number one quit method.
“This move by a respected and trusted institution worldwide proves that all the misinformation out there on vaping, is as we have been saying for years misinformation itself. It reinforces Public Health England’s recent annual vaping evidence review that perceptions of harm caused by vaping compared with smoking are increasingly out of line with evidence.”
Dunne also renewed the call to Government in the wake of this trial to give vaping more opportunity to promote itself as a harm reduction alternative to smoking when it is due to review the Tobacco Related Products Regulations in May.
He says: “We have put forward the idea of using Government-approved, expert health claims on vaping products to encourage the remaining 6-7m smokers in the UK to switch, as well as making sure that there are greater opportunities for the vaping industry to engage with smokers through marketing and advertising means, as current restrictions deter those who may have otherwise made the changeover.”
Dunne added: “It is extremely important that hospital staff have the knowledge to advise smokers about vaping, including which devices to use, nicotine levels and flavours to opt for in order to support a successful quit. We have used this approach successfully in our annual national VApril campaign, which is just coming to an end for 2021 and is designed to educate smokers on transitioning from conventional to e-cigarettes.”
Sir Norman Lamb, former Health Minister & former Chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has said:
“As a former Health Minister and a former smoker I welcome this trial being launched and the additional research, which will hopefully make it easier for people to quit smoking in the future. I am particularly keen to ensure that vaping is made available to people with mental ill health given continuing high smoking rates. It is very positive to have such a prominent trial funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) including clinical trials. I await the results with interest.”
Notes to editors:
Director General of the UKVIA, John Dunne is available for interview on this matter. Please contact Sam Webber on 07788 750857 or on firstname.lastname@example.org