NHS to offer e-cigarettes to smokers in new A&E trial
The IBVTA was delighted by news on April 29th that five NHS A&E departments across the UK are to offer e-cigarettes to patients that smoke. The offer is to be made as part of a trial, led by the University of East Anglia, which will compare how effective e-cigarettes are in helping people quit when compared to leaflets with details of local quit-smoking services. Success rates in quitting smoking will be monitored periodically over a 30 month period following the intervention.
The importance of this announcement cannot be overstated. For the first time ever, one of the world’s most respected health institutions, the NHS, will be directly involved in delivering vaping to smokers as a means to quit. Smokers selected for the vaping arm of the study will be offered a device, and sufficient e-liquid for their first week, along with medical advice and a referral to stop smoking services. Their quit rates will be compared with those that are just given a leaflet referring them to smoking cessation services.
This positive news comes at a time when only two in five smokers in Great Britain can correctly identify that vaping is less harmful than smoking. This number has fallen consistently over the last few years due to several misleading news stories that were clearly understood by experts to be fallacious, but where public opinion was never adequately rebalanced. The trial is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and to see it brought into play will provide important validation of the safety and efficacy of vaping as a means to quit.
UK A&E departments receive almost 25 million attendances each year, and reportedly smoking rates among adult attendees are rather higher than national average, at approximately 25%. This means not only that participants in the study are likely to be at a point in their lives where the idea of positive lifestyle changes might resonate, but also that a good proportion of them will have good reason to change for the better, and quit smoking.
Gillian Golden, IBVTA Chief Executive, roundly endorsed the launch of the study:
“As an advocate of vaping for quitting smoking of many years, I am thrilled to see the launch of this trial. I have the privilege of representing a number of businesses, all completely independent of the tobacco industry, that have been instrumental in making the UK a world leader in the vape sector, specifically in driving down smoking rates through vaping. This trial, and the involvement of the NIHR and the NHS, is a huge affirmation that our members’ tireless work over many years has been, and is worthwhile.”