Patients taking part in the trial will be split into groups. The first will receive a starter kit and support, the rest will receive advice and leaflets on how to quit. Success will be measured with follow-ups over a 30-month period to see how many managed to quit smoking and remain smoke-free.
The Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) (1) said: “The importance of this announcement cannot be overstated. For the first time ever, one of the world’s most respected health institutions, the NHS, will be directly involved in delivering vaping to smokers as a means to quit.”
The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) (2) described the announcement as a “landmark moment”.
“For years,” it continued, “the UKVIA has campaigned for vaping to be recognised as the best and most effective method for reducing smoking, with health protection organisations including Public Health England and Cancer Research UK all backing e-cigarettes’ use in cessation services.”
UKVIA pointed out the trial, which is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research, comes as shocking new data released by Mintel showed that 39% of smokers aged 18-34 said they were now smoking more regularly due to stress from Covid-19. It also revealed that 10% of former smokers had restarted their habit since the start of the pandemic. In addition, according to experts Emergency Departments see over 24m people each year of whom around a quarter are current smokers.
The IBVTA highlights that the positive news comes at a time when only two in five smokers in Great Britain can correctly identify that vaping is less harmful than smoking. This number has fallen consistently over the last few years due to several misleading news stories that were clearly understood by experts to be fallacious, but where public opinion was never adequately rebalanced.
Gillian Golden, IBVTA Chief Executive, roundly endorsed the launch of the study: “As an advocate of vaping for quitting smoking of many years, I am thrilled to see the launch of this trial. I have the privilege of representing a number of businesses, all completely independent of the tobacco industry, that have been instrumental in making the UK a world leader in the vape sector, specifically in driving down smoking rates through vaping. This trial, and the involvement of the NIHR and the NHS, is a huge affirmation that our members’ tireless work over many years has been and is worthwhile.”
John Dunne, Director General of the UKVIA, commented: “This is a hugely significant moment in the history of vaping and harm reduction. For the first time, following years of research and campaigning, we are finally at the point where the NHS looks to be fully embracing vaping and acknowledging its important role as the number one quit method.
“This move by a respected and trusted institution worldwide proves that all the misinformation out there on vaping, is as we have been saying for years misinformation itself. It reinforces Public Health England’s recent annual vaping evidence review that perceptions of harm caused by vaping compared with smoking are increasingly out of line with evidence.”
Sir Norman Lamb, former Health Minister & former Chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has said: “As a former Health Minister and a former smoker I welcome this trial being launched and the additional research, which will hopefully make it easier for people to quit smoking in the future. I am particularly keen to ensure that vaping is made available to people with mental ill health given continuing high smoking rates. It is very positive to have such a prominent trial funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) including clinical trials. I await the results with interest.”