E-cigarettes should be used more actively to help smokers quit, experts recommend

October 10, 2018, University of Exeter

Credit: CC0 Public Domain
"Ongoing nervousness" about the use of e-cigarettes in stop-smoking services can be a "significant" barrier to people finding support, research revealed during "Stoptober" shows. New research by the University of Exeter and University of Melbourne, funded by Cancer Research UK, suggests stop smoking services which are e-cigarette friendly should advertise this more openly, and says greater use of e-cigarettes has the potential to make considerable impact in helping people give up smoking.

England has led the way internationally by proposing that stop services become ' friendly', but many services fail to advertise this and consequently smokers, particularly those in deprived groups, may miss out on valuable behavioural support that may make the difference between success and failure in quitting.

The research shows strong leadership from organisations such as Public Health England has made a difference in changing attitudes. But the nervousness among some working in public health services and local councils about the use of e-cigarettes is preventing the widespread establishment of stop smoking services which support vapers.

As part of the study, published in the journal Harm Reduction, academics interviewed staff from eight different stop smoking services in the South-West of England. They found many services are becoming more e-cigarette friendly, welcoming e-cigarette users into their service, however they often fail to advertise this.

Dr. Hannah Farrimond, from the University of Exeter, who led the research with Professor Charles Abraham, said: "There are real opportunities for stop smoking services to use e-cigarettes more actively to help people give up smoking, but for this to happen policies around the country need to be consistent, and people need to share best practice and know what others are doing. This is particularly important given cuts to the council budget which have significantly reduced services."

The experts found although some stop smoking services labelled themselves "e-cigarette friendly", there was no consensus over what this should entail. Some were actively incorporating e-cigarettes, working with local vape shops, and in the case of one service, offering e-cigarettes through a voucher scheme to disadvantaged groups because they wanted to do things differently and help those in poorer communities and people with mental health problems. However, some of the 25 staff interviewed were worried about using e-cigarettes because they felt they were addictive and not medically licensed, and they didn't want to be seen as "wedded" to the vaping industry. Currently, e-cigarettes are not available on prescription within the NHS. Nobody reported turning away e-cigarette users from services.

MPs in the recent Commons report, Public Health England (PHE) and the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) have all suggested vaping may have a role to play in stop-smoking services. Giving people behavioural support and pharmacotherapy has been shown to be the most effective method of helping people give up smoking.

Dr. Farrimond said: "It is arguable that for smoking cessation work to succeed, it is going to have to move beyond specialist clinics which few smokers attend, and engage with vulnerable populations in their communities. Initiatives to support smoking cessation could occur in psychiatric units, community mental health settings, in addiction clinics, in community centres and smoke-free hospitals. E-cigarettes have the potential to allow stop smoking services to do things differently for marginalized and harder to treat smokers."

Only one stop smoking in this sample was currently offering e-cigarettes to users. Staff worked with local vaping shops to offer clients a combination of nicotine replacement therapy, NRT, and medication to treat nicotine addiction, and an e-cigarette voucher with behavioural and social support. Advisors noted the positive experience of working with the vape shops. One said: 'I think they're just really, really professional and really caring and really genuinely want to help people quit smoking alongside me'.

George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK's senior policy manager, said: "The evidence so far suggests that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. But this study shows attitudes to vaping vary.

"Smokers are much more likely to quit with the support of a Stop Smoking Service. And 'e-cigarette friendly' services help smokers who try to quit by vaping with behavioural support from a professional, giving them the best chance of quitting tobacco for good.

"It's vital that everyone across the country is aware of the options available to them as e-cigarettes may have a particularly important role in helping vulnerable or disadvantaged groups to quit."

Developing E-cigarette friendly smoking cessation services in England: staff perspectives, is published in the journal Harm Reduction.

Cancer Research UK requested a widening of the original sample of staff prior to issuing funding, but had no involvement in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data or writing the manuscript.

Explore further: How vaping helps even hardened smokers quit

More information: Hannah Farrimond et al, Developing E-cigarette friendly smoking cessation services in England: staff perspectives, Harm Reduction Journal (2018). DOI: 10.1186/s12954-018-0244-8

Related Stories

How vaping helps even hardened smokers quit

June 19, 2018
Vaping helps people stop smoking—even when they don't want to, according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

Number of vapers tops 3 million for first time in Britain

September 17, 2018
More than 3 million people in Great Britain are now vaping, according to new survey data.

E-cigarettes research shows clear benefits of switching from tobacco

October 10, 2018
Latest figures from the WHO show that smoking is still the number one preventable disease, killing seven million people globally each year.

Should doctors recommend e-cigarettes to help smokers quit?

April 26, 2018
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence offers guidance for doctors to advise people who are trying to quit smoking - that e-cigarettes are helpful tools when trying to quit. However, emerging evidence suggests ...

E-cigarettes may have helped 18,000 people quit smoking in 2015

September 13, 2016
E-cigarettes may have helped about 18,000 people in England to give up smoking in 2015, according to new research published in the British Medical Journal today.

Smoking quit rates highest in 10 years

September 22, 2017
Success rates for quitting smoking are at their highest level for a decade, according to a new report.

Recommended for you

Self-lubricating latex could boost condom use: study

October 17, 2018
A perpetually unctuous, self-lubricating latex developed by a team of scientists in Boston could boost the use of condoms, they reported Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

How healthy will we be in 2040?

October 17, 2018
A new scientific study of forecasts and alternative scenarios for life expectancy and major causes of death in 2040 shows all countries are likely to experience at least a slight increase in lifespans. In contrast, one scenario ...

Study finds evidence of intergenerational transmission of trauma among ex-POWs from the Civil War

October 16, 2018
A trio of researchers affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research has found evidence that suggests men who were traumatized while POWs during the U.S. Civil War transmitted that trauma to their offspring—many ...

Father's nicotine use can cause cognitive problems in children and grandchildren

October 16, 2018
A father's exposure to nicotine may cause cognitive deficits in his children and even grandchildren, according to a study in mice publishing on October 16 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Pradeep Bhide of Florida ...

Many supplements contain unapproved, dangerous ingredients: study

October 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—U.S. health officials have issued more than 700 warnings during the last decade about the sale of dietary supplements that contain unapproved and potentially dangerous drug ingredients, new research reveals.

Age at which women experience their first period is linked to their sons' age at puberty

October 12, 2018
The age at which young women experience their first menstrual bleeding is linked to the age at which their sons start puberty, according to the largest study to investigate this association in both sons and daughters.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.