Just over one week until the annual Stoptober 2017 campaign begins, an initiative run by the NHS, where almost 1 million people have quit smoking cigarettes. A new television advert which encourages the use of e-cigarettes to help an individual kick the dirty habit is to be launched by Public Health England, and the first time the NHS has backed the use of electronic cigarettes on national television. The television advert is to coincide with Stoptober, maximising the potential number of smokers looking to quit.

The news is a huge step for PHE, who arguably created controversy claiming that e-cigarettes were ‘95% less harmful than tobacco’. PHE has also asserted that the popularity of these devices for individuals to quit smoking is remarkable and has called on the NHS to prescribe them for anyone looking to ditch the habit.

Professor John Newton, director of health improvement at PHE has commented that ‘E-cigarettes are now the most popular way to quit in the country with half of those taking part in Stoptober last year using an e-cigarette. The evidence is clear – vaping is much less harmful than smoking – a fraction of the risk. So, if you’ve struggled with quitting before, an e-cigarette may be the best option for you’.

53% of people used e-cigs to help them quit smoking, pushing the number of people taking part in Stoptober to more than 1.5million, since 2012, when the campaign first launched.

New figures have suggested that smokers have successfully quit in the first six months of 2017 than ever before – perhaps an ode to the electronic device? Quit smoking success rates are at their highest for at least a decade in England, currently at 19.8% for the first six months of the year. This is a 4.1% increase, considering the average over the last decade has been 15.7%.

Interestingly, e-cigarettes are still contested by many health officials, and tend to shy away from endorsing an alternative cessation method to quitting where not enough evidence has been found for its potential health ‘benefits’ or consequences. A new draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) does not list e-cigarettes as a recommendation for quitting smoking, however it has been acknowledged that they have helped patients give up.

Professor Radford in an interview with BBC’s Radio 4 Today Programme, commented on the new draft guidance: ‘What for the first time NICE is saying is we recognize that e-cigarettes are being used by people to help them quit. Therefore, engage people in a discussion about how they are using them, encourage them to be using them only as part of a quit attempt…tell them clearly whilst they are much less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, they are not without all harm’.

Moreover, as smoking continues to decrease, vaping has increased and so the new televised advert promoting the use of ecigs is to be heralded as a success for saving lives. Currently, one in 20 people over the age of 16 regularly uses an ecigarette – and one quarter of these users are ex-smokers.

All resources used, videos and images credit to https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/stoptober/home 

Chris Polenski
Chris Polenski