The UK government will offer free vapes to one million smokers
One million smokers in England will be given a vape starter kit and support as part of a government scheme to encourage them to quit cigarettes.
Health Minister Neil O’Brien has announced a new programme called “Swap to Stop”. The UK’s new scheme will offer free vapes and e-liquids to smokers to assist them in quitting. It is the first initiative of its kind and is projected to cost the Department of Health and Social Care £45 million.
The government has launched a ground-breaking national programme to help smokers quit. As part of this programme, 1 in 5 smokers in England will receive a vape starter kit and behavioural support. The government is implementing several measures, including this initiative, to achieve their objective of reducing smoking rates to 5% or less and becoming smoke-free by 2030.
Later this year, local authorities will have the opportunity to join the program and create their own schemes that are tailored to their specific needs.
The government has also announced plans to offer pregnant women up to £400 to stop smoking, as 9% of pregnant women in England continue to smoke. The aim is to motivate them to quit smoking by the end of the year by providing financial incentives along with behavioural support.
Previous free vape pilot schemes were successful
Previous campaigns that have offered free vapes to smokers have proved successful. In 2018, the UK conducted its largest ‘Swap to Stop’ pilot program in Salford. It was highly successful, with over 60% of participants who stayed with the programme becoming smoke-free after 4 weeks. Totally Wicked provided guidance, training, and products to support over 1,000 smokers in the Salford programme.
Totally Wicked CEO Marcus Saxton expressed his enthusiasm for the nationwide ‘Swap to Stop’ programme and highlighted the importance of such initiatives. “There are still over 6 million smokers in England, and 2 out of 3 will die if they use tobacco products as directed by the manufacturer. Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of death worldwide. The programme is a positive step towards reducing smoking rates, although more needs to be done. It is very encouraging to see today's announcement around the ‘Swap to Stop’ scheme.”
"Swap to Stop" campaign to help reach government's smoke-free target
Vaping has become increasingly popular over the past decade, and e-cigarettes are now the UK’s most effective smoking cessation aid. Health organisations understand the importance of vaping and are embracing e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.
While nicotine is an addictive aspect of smoking, the harm from cigarettes comes from other toxins. These toxins are absent or present at much lower levels in e-cigarette vapour, making vaping much safer than smoking, and many vapers eventually give up nicotine completely.
Government also announces crackdown on illicit vapes
The government has also promised to clamp down on illegal vape products and their unlawful distribution. This effort will receive £3 million in government funding.
Authorities will use the funds to better enforce the regulations surrounding vaping. They will combat the distribution of unauthorised vaping products, and prevent the sale of vaping products to underage youths.
The enforcement team, led by Trading Standards, will work nationwide to accomplish this objective. They will collaborate with local authorities and regional networks to exchange intelligence and information.
The team will take specific actions such as conducting test purchases in vape shops and convenience stores. They will also provide guidelines to help these shops comply with regulatory requirements. Authorities will have the power to remove illegal vaping products from shops and border checkpoints.
As a responsible vaping business, Totally Wicked welcomes this announcement. Products sold through unregulated supply chains, such as illicit or informal ones, are not subject to proper market surveillance. These products can damage the reputation of legitimate vape products and increase the likelihood of youth using age-restricted products.
Totally Wicked is a founding member of the Independent British Vape Trade Association and employs strict age verification policies, product stewardship, and compliance checks.