Vaping Offers Better Value for the NHS

Posted 2nd December 2020 by Dave Cross
The NHS spent £22.5m in England on traditional nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) last year, according to consumer group We Vape. It believes that vaping would be a “more successful solution” and offers “better value for the taxpayer”. Research from the UK has shown that vaping works well as a way to quit smoking and some studies show it works twice as well as NRT.

The NHS has published its statistics on Stop Smoking Services in England between April 2019 and March 2020.  Despite the positive news that 70,000 people quit smoking, We Vape says the results weren’t great for the taxpayer and the number of successful quit attempts could have been higher.

The NHS data also shows:

  • There has been a reduction in the number of smokers setting a quit date compared to Q1 2019/20 (36,418 compared to 52,915 last year) but higher quitting success rates (58% compared to 50% last year).
  • The number of under-18s setting a quit date has more than halved compared to Q1 2019/20 (331 compared to 822 last year) although quit success has increased among this group (47% compared to 39% last year).
  • There has been a significant increase in the number of pregnant women setting a quit date (4,385 compared to 3,324 last year) and higher quit success rates (49% compared to 43% last year).
  • The proportion of CO verified quits fell to 2% due to the pause in CO monitoring following the COVID-19 outbreak. PHE & NHSE have now recommended that CO monitoring and face-to-face stop smoking support can resume.

We know from recent studies including the Cochrane Review that vaping is more successful than Nicotine Replacement Therapy at helping people quit. The success rate of vaping is nearly double that of its pharmaceutical cousin. Vaping is also significantly cheaper than NRT. The   average cost per item for all pharmacotherapy items was £32, which compares with some vaping products and refills costing less than £5 per item.  A 2019 study of 886 adult smokers      attempting to quit suggested the cost per smoker who quit on NRT to be £1,100 whereas for those attempting to quit using vaping the cost was a mere £65. “

Mark Oates, Director of We Vape, said: “The Government needs to think imaginatively if we are going to achieve Smoke Free 2030, there are 6 million smokers in England. Using NRT replacement therapy will only see at current rates 700,000 quit in the next 10 years. Leaving us well short of reducing the number of smokers to 5%. In order to change the trajectory, they need to look to vaping as the answer.

“Some stop smoking services are being innovative and providing vaping products to help people quit rather than just directing people straight to pharmaceutical products. However, more needs to be actively done to utilise the power of vaping to save lives.”



  • Statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services in England April 2019 to March 2020 – [link]
  • Can electronic cigarettes help people stop smoking, and do they have any unwanted effects when used for this purpose?”, Cochrane – [link]
  • Cost-effectiveness of e-cigarettes compared with nicotine replacement therapy in stop smoking services in England (TEC study): a randomized controlled trial – [link]
  • We Vape – [link]

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
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