Free vapes handed out under 'Swap to Stop' scheme – is your area included? | The Sun

Free vapes handed out under 'Swap to Stop' scheme – is your area included? | The Sun

THE government announced a world-first scheme earlier this year to help smokers kick the habit, which would see them trade their tobacco for vapes.

It was revealed that the programme would be rolled out in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

But a hospital in Hull has started handing out free devices to persuade visitors and staff to give up smoking.

Meanwhile, a local health authority in Bristol has successfully bid to also start doing cigarette-vape trades.

Regions in England are going ahead with the scheme after the World Health Organisation called for countries to clamp down on vape use or ban them altogether, describing them as “harmful to health".

A major review recently found e-cigarettes are one of the best ways to ditch cigarettes – with a 14 per cent quit rate compared to nine per cent for nicotine patches or gum.

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But while vaping is considered less harmful than smoking, it's still not without risk.

Studies published in 2022 found that e-cigs could be just as bad for your heart as smoking, with vapers seeing "worrisome changes in heart and blood vessel function".

A 'Swap to Stop' initiative was held outside of the Hull Royal Infirmary in November.

Scott Crosby, associate director of Centre of Excellence in Tobacco Control at the Humber and North Yorkshire health and care partnership, told Sun Health a "new engagement team outside Hull Royal Infirmary [were] offering support to visitors and staff, who may be in high stress situations and feel higher cravings for cigarettes."

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This is alongside the work tobacco dependency units already do in Humber and North Yorkshire hospitals, which help patients manage nicotine cravings with patches, lozenges and inhalators and offer behavioural support too.

Scott said of the 'Swap to Stop' scheme: "By offering recyclable vapes as an alternative, not only does it help to support a smoke-free hospital site, but it gives people a chance to try something else and encourage them to try and stop smoking tobacco."

He said vaping "is proven to be significantly less harmful to health".

“We need to do more to tackle the myths around vaping, so that people aren’t put off an option which could be life-saving," he added.

"While no one wants young people to start vaping, it’s important to highlight that it poses a fraction of the risk of smoking tobacco.

"People who switch from smoking to vaping significantly reduce exposure to the poisons in tobacco which raise the risk of cancer, lung disease, heart disease and stroke."

The scheme aims to tackle smoking health risks, Scott added.

“We need to end the harms from smoking, which is the leading cause of preventable ill-health and death," with the habit killing two out of three smokers," Scott said.

"Vaping is recommended as a means of quitting, with many smokers successfully using a vape to quit.

“While we’ve seen great progress in reducing smoking prevalence rates, in some parts of the region, rates are as high as 22 per cent.

"It’s vital therefore that we offer people in the communities who are disproportionately affected by tobacco-related harms, the best possible chance to stop.”

Meanwhile, smokers in the Bristol region will also be offered free vapes under the 'Swap to Stop' scheme.

The local health authority for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) successfully bid for £2.2million from the government to pay for 60,000 new devices, ITV News reported.

It's estimated that some 144,320 smokers live in the area; the devices would be able to help almost half of those quit tobacco.

It comes as major vape brands in the UK market announced they would pull sweet-flavoured pens that appeal to kids from shelves.

Elfbar and it's sister brand Lost Mary announced they would stop selling dessert and soft drink-flavoured products, having already pulled flavours like Bubble Gum, Cotton Candy, and Rainbow Candy.

The government's consultation on whether sweet e-cigs should be banned altogether closed this week, with findings to be published soon.

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It also asked whether vapes should be kept behind counters in shops like tobacco products, rather than being displayed alongside confectionery.

Meanwhile, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting recently said vapes could be made prescription-only in the UK to stop children getting hooked on nicotine if Labour were to be elected.

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