Smoking kills 80,000 people in England each year, making it the leading cause of death in the country. Health officials have worked long and hard to make quit aides available to smokers, but one of the most successful methods has been with NHS hotlines where people can get support in setting a “quit date” and beginning their new tobacco-free life. This week, news broke that the popular cessation hotlines have received far fewer calls this year. In fact, calls decreased by 19 percent since last year. Is this a bad sign for England’s smokers? According to health officials, it’s actually a step in the right direction. Fewer people are relying on the hotlines because many have found their own successful path to quitting cigarettes thanks to the newly popular ecigs.
Last year, NHS received around 740,000 calls from smokers that needed support to quit. This year, the number decreased to only 586,000 calls. Anti-smoking charity ASH addressed the sudden decline in hotline interest by pointing to e-cigarettes. Hazel Cheeseman spoke on behalf of ASH about the issue and said, “We know an ever increasing number of people are using electronic cigarettes to help them quit. While services can’t prescribe people electronic cigarettes, they can give people who want to use them extra support which can make all the difference to a successful quit.”
Public Health England spokesman Martin Dockrell agreed that ecigs were definitely linked to the sudden decrease in calls. “Local stop smoking services are effective as ever at helping smokers to quit, even if overall numbers using the services have declined. Smokers are four times more likely to succeed using these services,” he said. “Many factors could explain why overall numbers are down including the emerging popularity of ecigarettes as a quitting aide.”
Surprisingly, Public Health England and ASH are embracing ecigs as a quit method, but they also encourage smokers to utilize the hotlines for additional support. For those that do choose ecigs as a bridge to cessation, they offer later support for stopping ecig use as well. The goal is to eventually be free of both tobacco and nicotine. “So far no e-cigarettes have been licensed as medicines, and their contents and quality varies greatly. There is no reason why someone wanting to quit using an e-cigarette shouldn’t also speak to stop smoking service to receive additional support and advice to stand the best chance of quitting (nicotine) for good,” Dockrell explained.
It’s a nice change to see tobacco control groups embrace electronic cigarettes and recognize the potential that vaping has for assisting smokers. Thousands of smokers around the world have already turned to ecigs as a step towards a tobacco-free lifestyle. What about you… why did you choose to start vaping?