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Could e-cigarettes be to blame for a reduction in demand for NHS stop smoking services?

06:30 21 August 2014

Are e-cigarettes resulting in reduction in demand for NHS quit smoking services?

Are e-cigarettes resulting in reduction in demand for NHS quit smoking services?

The growing popularity of e-cigarettes has been partly blamed on a dramatic decrease in the number of people accessing NHS services to quit smoking.

New figures revealed that NHS Stop Smoking Services across England experienced a 19pc drop in new recruits last year and in Norfolk, the number of people who set a quit date dropped by almost a third in two years.

Officials from the Smokefree service in Norfolk said there had been a year-on-year decrease in the number of people seeking NHS support to help them stub out their habit, which may be down to smokers using e-cigarettes.

Bosses from Norfolk Community Health and Care (NCH&C), which runs the Stop Smoking Service in Norfolk, said 2,839 people set a quit date in 2013/14 with just over 50pc successfully quitting. However, in 2012/13, more than 3,000 people joined the scheme and more than 4,000 signed up in 2011/12.

Fotoula Blias, service manager for specialist therapies at NCH&C, said it was difficult to know exactly why the numbers were dropping. However, research suggested that a person was four times more likely to quit with one to one support, group therapy and medication.

“I suspect in part it is related to people trying to give up independently and adopting methods such as e-cigarettes which is less challenging emotionally, physically and psychologically, although the person will still be taking in nicotine. We are also finding we are getting down to the hardcore smokers who may find it extremely difficult to quit. “

“The Smokefree service is available all year round and we really encourage people to take the plunge and to stop smoking through campaigns like Stoptober,” she said.

Figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre revealed that there was a more than 20pc decrease in the number of people setting a quit date in the East of England last year.

Shamsher Diu, consultant in Public Health at Norfolk County Council, said: “Services countywide, regionwide and locally have seen a fall in numbers accessing services. It is not because fewer people want to give up smoking, but more because they are finding alternative routes to quit (for example, nicotine replacement therapy such as patches and gum over the counter) or modifying their addiction to nicotine (e.g. e-cigarettes).

“Evidence tells us that the most effective way to stop smoking is to quit with NHS stop smoking services using medication and support. As yet e-cigarettes are not regulated and do not have the approval needed to be classified as medicines in a stop smoking programme.”

For more information, call the Norfolk service on 0800 0854 113.

Have you got a health story? Email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

8 comments

  • Lynda.Harm reduction is a key element of any drug policy and we must remember the severity of addiction some people have,for whatever reason.In my experience,I have met many with various addictions but ,to woman and man,each one has said it's the fags that are the hardest to give up.We must treat it as it is,an addiction like any other and,until we fathom the deep causes,we can keep people safer via less harmful substitutes.Harm reduction works.Support,Don't Punish.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • Yes Lynda but with e fags you are only going through the same motions as drinking coffee or coke-ie imbibing a mild stimulant with some addictive properties. No nasty tars. The finger wagging neo puritans who object to efags on the basis that they are like cigarette need putting in their place very firmly. We might have accepted the restrictions of our civil liberties as adults because we accept that the tars in fags cause cancer,but this overstepping the bounds is not on. One hopes that the makers of e fags work out how to deliver cannabinoids in their most happy form to help legalise use of cannabis.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • Just a thought, but, is it because there are much less people smoking now anyway and therefore less people to give it up? The best way to give up is will power, simple! I did it, so am sure anyone can! My husband went through the N.H.S route and although it was a struggle for him ( he did not really want to give up, just for his health he was told to! ) he did manage it in the end. Cannot see the point of the e-cigarettes as you are still going through the same "motions" of smoking.

    Report this comment

    Lynda

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • There has been concern expressed recently regarding the neglect of physical health of those with mental health problems,a significant cause of which is nicotine addiction ingested via cigarettes as the link between smoking and mental health has not really been addressed.Vaping as the method of ingestion,once properly regulated for safety,could well lead to the biggest public health improvement for those with mental health problems,both inside the mental health and penal systems,and outside,especially for those with long-term and severe tobacco addictions.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • I think the word "blame" is not the right word to use in this story, it sounds like a reduction in numbers attending NHS stop smoking is a bad thing and it's not. The nicotine is not the harmful thing in tobacco it's the other chemicals the makers add which causes cancer and other problems, so perhaps the government should be targeting them to remove the harmful chemicals rather than take on each smoker.

    Report this comment

    parkeg1

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • Daisy is right in that NHS schemes don't work. They claim large cessation successes, but if they were to follow these non-smokers on a bit, they would find many puffing away again.

    Report this comment

    Catton Man

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • I'm not sure why lower figures are a bad thing, ecigs are to blame? Surely this is a good thing and will save the NHS money.

    Report this comment

    Banana Babe

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • Well just goes to show e cigs work when the NHS schemes dont. I know several people who were showered with gum and patches at presumably some expense and which did not work, who have given up cigarettes for e cigs, and in some cases given them up too. Since nicotine in the quantities in ecigs is not a problem, and is tars and other chemicals in tobacco which cause cancer, not the nicotine I see no reason to demonise them. Only the manufacturers of the patches and gum etc will see a problem because of lost easy sales.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

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