Health & Studies

Swap To Stop Research

A recent study from the University of East Anglia confirms that handing out free vape starter kits to smokers appeals to most of them – but not all

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A recent study from the University of East Anglia (UEA) confirms that handing out free vape starter kits to smokers appeals to most of them – but not all. The government’s 'Swap-to-Stop' scheme was announced earlier this year and aims to provide vape kits to one million disadvantaged smokers to help them quit their tobacco addiction.

The new study (linked below) supports the 'Swap-to-Stop' scheme, with the researchers reporting: “people who vape saying that this type of approach might have helped them if it had been available when they attempted to quit.”

The research also shows that receiving ecigs from the NHS might not be seen as an appealing solution by everyone. The team added: “some people don't see e-cigarettes as treatments but more as consumer products that they can shop for themselves.”

The team believes that there is a place for both commercial and medical products for smoking cessation so that everybody’s personal preferences can be met.

Lead researcher Dr Emma Ward, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “The vast majority of people who have quit smoking via vaping will have done so without any support from healthcare professionals.

“However, using vapes to quit smoking has been supported by the NHS and there are guidelines for healthcare professionals to support patients looking to quit smoking with vaping.

“In April 2023, the Government announced a 'Swap-to-Stop' scheme – to help achieve its Smokefree 2030 target of less than 5 per cent of people smoking in England by 2030.

“The scheme will be the biggest Government supported stop smoking scheme to date using e-cigarettes. The scheme will use vaping products that are also available to buy commercially.

“We wanted to better-understand how well it might work.”

The UEA team says it interviewed “136 people from across the UK – nearly all of whom had quit smoking via vaping.”

It asked them how helpful they would have found e-cigarettes being provided by the NHS when they were attempting to quit. They also asked for their views on different ways to access vaping for quitting smoking.

Dr Ward said: “Our research shows that people who quit smoking using commercially purchased vapes believe they might have benefitted from the NHS providing e-cigarettes and support if it had been available to them when they were quitting.

“Vaping being available via healthcare professionals offers reassurance around the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping people quit smoking and potential harms.

“However, it is unlikely that one type of e-cigarette will suit everyone seeking to quit and our research highlights how important being able to choose vaping products in a commercial environment is for some quitters.

“People who vape believe they have benefited from being able to choose vaping products in shops to get the right mix of device and flavours to work best for them to help them to permanently stop smoking.

“Even those who do achieve success with vapes given to them by the NHS are likely to continue to use shops to buy ongoing vaping supplies.

“So, we argue that there is a place for both commercial and medical routes to vaping to help people stop smoking.”


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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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